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The Sacraments in General. Baptism. 


17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo. 



Sti. Ludovici) die 21. Dec. 1916. 


Censor Librorum. 

Sti. Ludovici, die 26. Dec. 1916. 


Sti. Ludovici. 

Copyright* 1915 

Joseph Gummersbach. 

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CH. I. Definition, Division, and Number ...... 3 

i. Explanation of the Term " Sacrament" .... 5 

2. Christian and Other Sacraments . . . . . .18 

3. The Seven Sacraments of the New Testament . . 32 

CH. II. The Three Essential Constituents of a Sacrament 58 

i. The Visible Sign, or Matter and Form .... 59 

2. Internal Grace, or Sacramental Effects .... 66 

ART. i. Effects Common to All the Sacraments . . 66 
ART. 2. The Sacramental Character Peculiar to Bap 
tism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders .... 76 

3. The Sacraments Instituted by Jesus Christ ... 97 
CH. III. The Efficacy of the Sacraments and Their Man 
ner of Operation ..." 121 

i. The Efficacy of the Sacraments ex Opere Operato 122 
2. Whether the Sacraments are Physical or Moral 

Causes of Grace 143 

CH. IV. The Minister of a Sacrament 161 

i. The Conditions of Valid Administration .... 162 

ART. i. The Person of the Minister 162 

ART. 2. Requisites of Valid Administration . . . 166 

ART. 3. Necessity of a Right Intention . . . .175 

2. The Requisites of Worthy Administration . . . 188 

CH. V. The Recipient of a Sacrament . . . . . . . 191 

i. The Requisites of Valid Reception 191 

2. The Requisites of Worthy Reception .... 200 


CH. I. Baptism a True Sacrament 205 

i. Divine Institution . 206 

2. Matter and Form 213 

3. Sacramental Effects 228 



CH. II. The Necessity of Baptism 238 

CH. III. The Minister of Baptism 254 

i. The Minister of Solemn Baptism 255 

2. Who Has the Power to Confer Baptism in Cases 

of Emergency . . 259 

CH. IV. The Recipient of Baptism 265 

i. The Requisites of Valid Reception 265 

2. Infant Baptism ..*... 268 


CH. I. Confirmation a True Sacrament 278 

i. Divine Institution . . 278 

2. Matter and Form . 288 

3. Sacramental Effects . ? 300 

CH. II. The Obligation of Receiving Confirmation . . 304 

CH. III. The Minister of Confirmation 307 

CH. IV. The Recipient of Confirmation . . . . . . 314 

INDEX 319 


The justification of the sinner, with which we 
have dealt in a previous treatise, 1 is ordinarily not 
a purely internal and invisible process or series of 
acts, but requires the instrumentality of external 
visible signs instituted by Jesus Christ, which 
either confer grace 2 or augment 3 it. 

Such visible means of grace are called Sacra 
ments. 4 

The source and well-spring of all grace under 
the present dispensation is the Sacrifice of the 
Cross, from which redemptive power flows into 
the souls of men through the Sacraments and the 
Mass. This consideration led St. Thomas to re 
gard the Passion of Our Divine Saviour as the 
foundation-stone of the dogmatic treatise on the 
Sacraments. The importance of this treatise, 
from both the theoretical and the practical point 
of view, is in turn evident from the fact that the 

1 Grace, Actual and Habitual, St. sense, and are therefore treated 
Louis, Mo., 1915. elsewhere prayer in moral and 

2 In this sense justification is ascetic theology, sacrifice partly in 
called iustificatio prima. Soteriology (cfr. Pohle-Preuss, 

3 In this sense it is called iustifi- Soteriology, pp. in sqq.) and partly 
catio secunda. in the dogmatic treatise on the 

4 Prayer and sacrifice are also Holy Eucharist, Part III, " The 
means of grace, but in a different Holy Eucharist as a Sacrifice." 


grace of the Atonement cannot in the present 
economy effect justification in the individual soul 
without the use of the Sacraments, in re, or at 
least in voto. 

Following the example of the Tridentine Coun 
cil, 5 modern theologians are wont to introduce 
the treatise on the Sacraments with an explana 
tion of the nature, operation, and requisites of 
Sacraments in general. 6 Besides obviating the 
need of constant repetition, this introduction 
serves to show that the Sacraments are closely 
connected by a common bond and together consti 
tute an organic unit. 

The present volume contains, besides this gen 
eral introduction De Sacramentis in Genere, the 
special treatises on Baptism and Confirmation. 
The next volume will be devoted entirely to the 
Holy Eucharist, the following one to Penance, 
while a fourth will deal with Extreme Unction, 
Holy Orders, and Matrimony. 

5 Concilium Trident., Sess. VII, 6 " De Sacramentis in genere; " 

quoted in Denzinger-Bannwart s in German, " Allgemeine Sakra 1 

Enchiridion, nth ed., n. 844 sqq., mentenlehre." 
Freiburg 1911. 




In this Chapter we shall first define the term 
"Sacrament," then show how it has been ap 
plied to various rites in the Old and the New 
Testament, and finally demonstrate that under the 
New Law there are seven Sacraments, neither 
more nor less. 

GENERAL READINGS : Peter Lombard, Liber Sent., IV, dist. I 
sqq. St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 33, qu. 60 sqq., and his 
commentators, notably the Salmanticenses, Cursus Theol., Vol. 
XVIII (ed. Paris 1880) ; Billuart, De Sacramentis in Communi 
(ed. Lequette, Paris, Vol. VI, pp. 97 sqq.), etc. *Stiarez, De 
Sacramentis (ed. Vives, Paris 1856 sqq.). Bellarmine, Con- 
trovers, de Sacrament, in Genere (ed. Fevre, Vol. Ill, pp. 325 
sqq., Paris 1870). Allen, De Sacramentis in Genere, etc., Ant 
werp 1576. *M. Cano, Relectio de Sacramentis in Genere (ed. 
Rome 1890). *De Lngo, Disputationcs de Sacramentis in Genere 
(ed. Fournials, Vol. Ill, Paris 1892). This last-mentioned 
treatise is especially thorough and valuable. 

Among later writers : Drouvenius, De Re Sacramentaria contra 
Perduellos Haereticos, Venice 1737; Tournely, Prael. Theol. de 
Sacramentis, Paris 1739; N. Muszka, S. J., De Sacramentis Novae 
Legis, Vienna 1758. 

Among modern authors: Bautz, Einig, Heinrich-Huppert, 



H urter, Simar, Hunter, Wilhelm-Scannell, et aL, in their re 
spective treatises on the Sacraments, and in addition to these the 
following : 

Merlin, Traite Historique et Dogmatique sur les Paroles ou 
Formes des Sept Sacrements de I Eglise, Paris 1844 (Migne, 
Theol. Cursus Completus, Vol. XXI). Besson, Les Sacrements 
ou la Grace de I Homme-Dieu, Paris 1879. Katschthaler, Theol. 
Dogmatica Cath. Specialis, Vol. IV, Ratisbon 1884. *Franzelin, 
De Sacramentis in Genere, 4th ed., Rome 1888. *De Augustinis, 
De Re Sacramentaria, Vol. I, 2nd ed., Rome 1889. Billot, De 
Ecclesiae Sacramentis, Vol. I, 4th ed., Rome 1907. P. Schanz, 
Die Lehre von den Sakramenten der kath. Kirche, Freiburg 1893. 
Oswald, Die dogmatische Lehre von den hi. Sakramenten, 
Vol. I, 5th ed., Miinster 1894. *Chr. Pesch, Praelectiones Dog- 
maticae, Vol. VI, 3rd ed., Freiburg 1908. G. B. Tepe, Institutions 
Theologicae, Vol. IV, Paris 1896. J. B. Sasse, De Sacramentis 
Ecclesiae, Vol. I, Freiburg 1897. Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dog 
matische Theologie, Vol. IX, Mainz 1901. >H. Lahousse, S. J., 
De Sacramentis in Genere, etc., Bruges 1900. A. Paquet, De 
Sacramentis, Vol. I, Quebec 1900. Scheeben-Atzberger, Dogma- 
tik, Vol. IV, Part 2, Freiburg 1901. Noldin, De Sacramentis, 
Innsbruck 1901. N. Gihr, Die hi. Sakramente der kath. Kirche, 
Vol. I, 2nd ed., Freiburg 1902. G. van Noort, De Sacramentis, 
Vol. I, 2nd ed., Amsterdam 1910. P. Pourrat, La Theologie 
Sacramentaire, 4th ed., Paris 1910 (English tr., Theology of 
the Sacraments f 2nd ed., St. Louis 1914) . D. J. Kennedy, art. 
"Sacraments," in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIII. W. 
Humphrey, S. J., The One Mediator, London 1890. A. Devine, 
C. P., The Sacraments Explained, 3rd ed., London 1905. 

N on-Catholic authors worth consulting are: Hahn, Die Lehre 
von den Sakramenten in ihrer geschichtlichen En-twicklung in- 
nerhalb der abendldndischen Kirche bis zum Konzil von Trient, 
Breslau 1864, and Alex. Maltzew, Die Sakramente der orthodox- 
katholischen Kirche des Morgenlandes, Berlin 1898. 

*) The asterisk before an author s name indicates that his treatment of 
the subject is especially clear and thorough. As St. Thomas is invariably 
the best guide, the omission of the asterisk before his name never means 
that we consider his work inferior to that of other writers. There are 
vast stretches of theology which he scarcely touched. 



"Sacrament" is a word of Latin origin. It is de 
rived from sacrare * and denotes a thing which 
produces holiness a means of sanctification. 

The concept sacr amentum was enriched by the 
inclusion in it of the Greek /<"Vv, (from pw, to 
shut the mouth or eyes), and thus came to denote 
a thing both sacred and mysterious. 2 

Such sacred and mysterious things were: (a) 
venerable objects, as the truths of religion, 3 
and especially (b) signs directing men to God, as, 
for instance, the types employed in the Old Testa 
ment. 4 

This usage was adopted by the Fathers 5 and re 
tained by the early Schoolmen, 6 even after the 
term "Sacrament" had come to be technically re 
stricted to "a definite number of sensible signs 
of sanctification, given to man by Christ, who has 

1 As testamentum from testari, 4 Cfr. Tertullian, Contra Mar- 
linimentum from linire, etc. cion., V, 4. 

2 Res sacra et arcana. 5 E. g., St. Augustine. 

3 Cfr. Eph. I, 9, III, 3 sqq.; Col. 6 E. g., Hugh of St. Victor. 
I, 27; i Tim. Ill, 16. 



annexed to the due use of these signs the power 
of working that which they signify." 7 

The usage mentioned was common alike to pro 
fane and ecclesiastical literature. Thus, in the 
early days of Rome, when a lawsuit was brought, 
the parties were often bound to deposit a sum of 
money with the priests, and that portion of it for 
feited by the loser was called sacramentum, 
i. e. res sacra, and employed to provide sacrifices 
for the gods. The Romans used the word sacra- 
mentum also to denote a solemn engagement, es 
pecially a soldier s military oath of allegiance. 
Tertullian no doubt had this particular usage 
in mind when he referred to the baptismal 
vow as a sacr amentum in the sense of a 
sacred obligation entered into under the sanction 
of an oath. 8 Since whatever is sacred has refer 
ence to the Deity, and the Deity is of its very na 
ture mysterious, the term sacramentum gradually 
came to include the various meanings of the 
Greek word Awcmjpiov. Hence the indiscriminate 
use of sacramentum and mysterium in the Vul 
gate 9 and the ancient liturgies. St. Augustine 
read in his Itala Bible: "Si sciero oninia sacra 
ment a" (i Cor. XIII, 2), where our Vulgate has: 
"Si noverim mysteria omnia." 

7 Cfr. S. J. Hunter, S. J., Out- 9 E. g., Tob. XII, 7: " Sacra- 
lines of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. mentum regis abscondere bonum 
III, pp. 167 sq. est." 

8De Idol., c. 6, 19. 


The words sacramenta and mysteria were fur 
ther applied indiscriminately to symbols or signs 
representative of the "holy mysteries," that is to 
say, all sacred usages and ceremonies, even such 
as were not sacramental rites in the technical 
sense. Thus St. Augustine in his sermons speaks 
of the "Sacrament of the Lord s Prayer." 10 In 
the Eleusinian Mysteries the term ^or^ia W as ap 
plied both to doctrines and rites. 11 

From this vague and indefinite usage it follows 
that not every rite called sacramentum in the 
primitive Church was necessarily a Sacrament in 
the later and more precise sense of the term. To 
understand what is meant in each case we must 
carefully attend to the context. Thus, for in 
stance, it would be a mistake to attempt to prove 
from St. Paul s phrase "magnum sacramentum/ 
that he regarded Matrimony as a Sacrament. 
The Apostle simply meant to say that it is a great 
mystery. 12 Similarly the Fathers and early ec 
clesiastical writers employ the term Sacrament 
very loosely, as may be gathered from the fact 

10 Serm., 228, n. 3: " Sermonem mans got from Persia, see Blotzer, 
ad altare Dei debemus hodie infan- " Das heidnische Mysterienwesen 
tibus de sacramcnto altaris. Trac- zur Zeit der Entstehung des Chri- 
tavimus ad eos de sacramento stentums," in the Stimmen aus 
symboli, quod credere debeant, Maria-Laach, 1906, 1907. On the 
tractavimus de sacramento orationis mysteries of Eleusis cfr. P. Foucart, 
dominicae, quomodo petant, et de Les Mysteres d Eleusis, Paris 1914. 
sacramento fontis et baptismi." 12 For further information on this 

11 The rite of initiation, Phallic point cfr. the dogmatic treatise on 
worship, etc. On the mysteries of Matrimony. 

the Mithraic cult, which the Ro- 


that Tertullian 13 refers to the Gnostic systems as 
"sacramenta haereticarum idearum" while St. 
Augustine repeatedly applies the term to the ex 
ternal worship of God and to sacrifice in general. 14 
It was reserved for the Schoolmen, notably Peter 
Lombard and St. Thomas, to define the term 
Sacrament, and to restrict its use to certain 
rites. 15 

ing, a Sacrament is, as we have seen, "a symbol of 
a sacred and mysterious thing." Now, as there 
exists a vast number of such symbols that are 
not Sacraments in the technical sense, it is nec 
essary to eliminate from the formal definition of 
the term all those symbols which do not refer to 
man s personal sanctification. Only the visible 
signs of internal sanctification are called Sacra 
ments in the proper sense. 16 To distinguish the 
Sacraments of the Old Testament from the far 
more excellent and effective ones of the New, 
we must add, as a characteristic mark of the 

13 Contra Marcion., I, 13. crificii sacramentum, i. e. sacrum 

14 Ad Marcellin., ep. 138, n. 7: signum est." 

" Signa, quum ad res divinas per- 15 Cfr. Pourrat, La Theologie 

tinent, sacramenta vocantur." Sacramentaire, pp. 1-46, Paris 1910. 

Contra Faust., XIX, n: "In (English ed., Theology of the Sacra- 

nullum nomen religionis seu verum ments, 2nd edition, pp. i~47 St. 

seu falsunt coagulari homines pos- Louis 1914). 

sunt, nisi aliquo signaculorum vel 16 Petrus Lomb., Sent., IV, dist. 

sacrament or -urn visibilium consortio i: "Sacramentum est invisibilis 

colligentur." De Civ. Dei, X, 5: gratiae [sanctificantis ] visibilis 

" Sacrificium visibile invisibilis sa- forma." 


latter, that they not only signify but actually 
confer grace. Hence Peter Lombard s famous 
definition: "Sacr amentum proprie id dicitur 
quod ita est signum gratiae Dei et invisibilis 
gratiae forma, ut ipsius imaginem gerat et causa 
existat" or, more concisely, "Sacramentum est 
signum efhcax gratiae sanctificantis" a Sacra 
ment is an efficacious sign of sanctifying 

a) The note of "personal sanctification" eliminates a 
multitude of signs or symbols which were formerly in 
cluded in the term Sacrament, e. g., such Old Testament 
types as the passage of the Israelites through the Red 
Sea, the brazen serpent, the manna, and in general all 
those signs, rites, symbols, and ceremonies which had for 
their chief purpose the glorification of God rather than 
the sanctification of man, for example, the sacrifices of 
the Old Law, the Mass, the physical universe as a mani 
festation of the Creator s greatness, and so forth. 17 
Similarly, the dove as a symbol of the Holy Ghost, the 
Bible, images of the saints, the sign of the cross, are in 
deed signa rei sacrae, but not Sacraments, because they 
signify or symbolize something else than the sanctification 
of the soul. Even among the sensible signs of interior 
sanctification, only those are truly Sacraments that were 
permanently instituted for this purpose by God Himself. 
Such was, for instance, circumcision under the Old Law, 
such is Baptism under the New. By this criterion we 
must eliminate merely transient rites, as the communica 
tion of the Holy Spirit by breathing, etc. 18 To exclude 

ITCfr. Ps. XVIII, x. isCfr. John XX, 22. 


from the definition of a Sacrament a number of rites or 
signs that are merely sacramentals, it is necessary to 
emphasize with De Lugo 19 that a true sacrament not only 
signifies but actually causes interior sanctification. In the 
complete and perfect sense this is true only of the seven 
Sacraments of the New Law. 

b) As there were undoubtedly true Sacra 
ments, though of an inferior order, under the Old 
Law, we must find some note by which to dis 
tinguish the Sacraments of the Christian dispen 
sation from those of the Ancient Covenant, and 
elaborate a generic definition applicable to both 

The existence of Sacraments under the Old Law may 
be deduced from the constant belief of the Fathers 20 
and Scholastics, 21 and especially from the positive teach 
ing of the Church. The Council of Trent defines : " If 
anyone saith that these Sacraments of the New Law do 
not differ from the Sacraments of the Old Law, save that 
the ceremonies are different, and different the outward 
rites, let him be anathema." 22 It is not easy to formulate 
a generic definition that will fully answer the require 
ments laid down. According to the exposition of doc 
trine drawn up by Eugene IV for the Armenian delegates 
at the Council of Florence, A. D. 1439, the essential differ 
ence between the Sacraments of the Old and those of the 
New Testament consists in this that the former merely 

19 De Sacramentis, disp. i, sect. 2. dixerit, ea ipsa Novae Legis sa- 

20 Cfr. St. Augustine, Contra cramenta a sacramentis antiquae 
Faust., XIX, ii. Legis non differre nisi quia caeri- 

21 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa moniae sunt aliae et ritus alii, ana- 
Theol., la 2ae, qu. 102, art. 5. thema sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, 

22 Sessio VII, can. 2: "Si quis n. 845). 


symbolize, or prophetically typify, sanctifying grace, 
whereas the latter " contain " and actually " confer " it. 23 
In other words, the distinguishing characteristic of the 
Sacraments of the New Law is the efftcacia signi, that of 
the Sacraments of the Old Law, the ineincacia signi. But 
if the Sacraments of the Ancient Covenant were ineffica 
cious signs, if they did not somehow truly effect or 
convey grace, how can they be called Sacraments ? Holy 
Scripture makes a distinction between a twofold sanctity, 
the legal " sanctity of the flesh," 24 and the theological 
" sanctity of the spirit." 25 The Sacraments of the Old 
Law foreshadowed but did not of themselves (ex op ere 
operate) confer "theological sanctity," i. e. sanctify 
ing grace, but they actually conferred " legal sanc 
tity," and in so far at least were endowed with the 
necessary causality or efficacia signi. They were efficaci 
ous signs of legal sanctity in the present, and inefficacious 
signs of theological sanctity for the future, and conse 
quently types or models of the Sacraments of the New 
Testament. To exercise this twofold function they had 
been instituted by God Himself as a permanent institution, 
to last till the coming of the Messias. This distinction 
enables us to formulate an adequate generic definition as 
follows : " A Sacrament is a visible sign of sanctity, 
instituted by God, the efficaciousness of which is deter 
mined by the particular economy of grace to which it 
belongs." 20 

23 " Novae Legis sacramenta 24 Sanctitas legalis seu carnis. 

multum a sacramentis differunt anti- 25 Sanctitas theologica seu gratia 

quae Legis; ilia enim non causa- sanctificans. 

bant gratiam, sed earn solum per 26 On the question whether this 

passionem Christi dandam csse definition applies in exactly the same 

figurabant, haec vero nostra ct con- sense or only analogically to the 

tinent gratiam et ipsam dlgne sus- Sacraments of both Testaments, see 

cipientibus conferunt." (Denzinger- Bellarmine, De Sacramentis, I, 12. 
Bannwart, n. 695). 


TION. The important part played by the word 
"sign" in both the specific and the generic defini 
tion of a Sacrament, makes it necessary to ex 
plain the meaning of that term. 

a) A sign (signum, o^/mov) is some thing, the knowl 
edge of which leads to the knowledge of some other 
thing. There are here two distinct elements. The ma 
terial element is " some thing known ; " the formal ele 
ment, the aptitude of the material to convey " the knowl 
edge of some other thing as yet unknown." 

" A sign," says St. Augustine, " is a thing which, over 
and above the impression it makes on the senses, causes 
something else to come into the mind as a consequence 
of itself; as when we see a footprint, we conclude that 
an animal, whose footprint this is, has passed by; and 
when we see smoke, we know that there is fire beneath." 21 
For the purposes of the present treatise we may disregard 
visible signs of visible things 28 and invisible signs of 
invisible things, 29 and concentrate our attention on the vis 
ible signs of invisible things. 

b) Signs may be divided according to the point of 
view from which they are regarded. 

a) Between a sign and the thing it signifies there must 
be some connection. This connection may either arise 
from the nature of the two, independently of any free-will 
act, or it may be purely conventional. Thus it is owing to 

27 De Doctrina Christ., II, i: 28 Such as foot-prints, images of 

" Signum est res praeter speciem, saints, etc. 

quam ingerit sensibus, aliud aliquid 29 E. g., peace of mind as an in- 

ex se faciens in cogitationem -venire, dication of the state of grace, the 

sicut vestigio visa transiisse animal sacramental character conferred by 

cuius -vestigium est cogitamus et Baptism, etc. 
fumo viso ignem subesse cognosci- 


the very nature of things that there should be fire where 
there is smoke, and vice versa; smoke is therefore the nat 
ural sign of fire. A purely conventional sign bears 
no innate relation to the nature of things, but originates 
in an arbitrary act of one person, which is subsequently 
recognized by others. 

To which of these two classes do the Sacraments be 
long? They are not purely natural signs of invisible 
grace because their signification is owing to a free act of 
God. Nor can they be regarded as purely conventional 
or arbitrary signs because between the sacramental rite 
and its effects there is a striking similarity, which results 
in a sort of affinity between the symbol and the thing 
symbolized. In other words, the Sacraments are arbi 
trary but at the same time deeply significant signs of 
grace. It was this observation which led St. Augustine 
to say: "If the Sacraments did not possess some kind 
of resemblance to the things which they signify, they 
would not be Sacraments." 30 

Cardinal Bellarmine 31 divides signs, according to their 
origin, into three classes: (i) Those which signify some 
thing by nature, regardless of any act of the free-will 
(e. g. footprints, photographs) ; (2) those which origi 
nate entirely in the free-will of the inventor and are 
strictly conventional (e. g. signals, the ringing of a bell) ; 
(3) those which involve what may be called an obvious 
symbolism (e. g. the sign of the cross). It is to this 
last-mentioned category that the Sacraments belong. Be 
ing naturally adapted to symbolize interior grace, they 
have been chosen to perform this office and formally in 
stituted for this purpose by Christ. Thus the external 

30 Ep., 98, 9 (ad Bonifac.) : " Si sunt, non haberent, omnino non 
sacramenta quondam similitudinem essent sacramenta." 
earum rerum, quorum sacramenta 31 De Sacramentis, I, 9. 


ablution in Baptism fitly symbolizes the cleansing of the 
soul from sin ; Holy Communion under the species of 
bread and wine is an apt symbol of the spiritual nourishing 
of the soul, and so forth. 

(3) Another classification, important for our purpose, 
is that into speculative and practical signs. A speculative 
sign merely symbolizes that which it signifies (e. g. the na 
tional flag, an image), while a practical sign both sym 
bolizes and effects it. Thus the act of handing over the 
keys of a fortress to the general of an invading army not 
only symbolizes the surrender of the stronghold, but actu 
ally puts it into effect. From what has been said about 
the essential distinction between the Sacraments of the 
Old and those of the New Testament, it is evident that the 
Sacraments are not merely speculative but practical signs. 
This is true of the " weak and needy elements " of the Old 
Covenant, 32 and, in a still higher sense, of the Sacraments 
of the New Testament. 

y) Signs may also be divided with respect to past, 
present, or future events. A sign that refers to some past 
event is called in Scholastic terminology signum re- 
memorativum. To this category belong paintings repre 
senting battles, commemoratory medals, etc. A sign that 
refers to some present happening is called signum 
demonstrativum. Such is, for example, the hoisting of 
a flag to signify the presence of a ruler. A sign that 
points to some future occurrence is called signum pro- 
gnosticum (e. g. the blowing of a whistle to announce the 
impending arrival or departure of a train). The sacra 
mental signs of the New Testament belong to all three of 
these categories. They recall the Passion of Our Lord 
Jesus Christ, they symbolize sanctifying grace as here and 
now present in the soul, and they foretell the future glory 

32 Gal. IV, 9. 


of the elect. This teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas 33 
and of practically all other Catholic theologians has been 
adopted into the Roman Catechism. 34 Its truth can be 
clearly demonstrated from Scripture. Of Baptism, St. 
Paul teaches: (i) that " we are baptized in Jesus Christ, 
in his death " ; 33 (2) that by virtue of this Sacrament " we 
walk in newness of life; " 36 and (3) that Baptism makes 
us like Christ, as in death, so also in the resurrection. 37 
Holy Communion " shows the death of the Lord " in the 
past, 38 confers spiritual life in the present, 39 and guaran 
tees resurrection " in the last day." 40 

For the other five Sacraments this threefold significa 
tion cannot be proved with the same convincingness, but 
it is virtually included in the indisputable Scriptural 
truth that the present reception of any one of them 
postulates as its meritorious cause the Passion of Christ, 
which is an event of the past, and carries within itself 
as a reward the future glory of Heaven. Note, how 
ever, that the sacramental signs are always primarily signa 
demonstrative, and only secondarily signa rememorativa 
and prognostics This is owing to the fact that the Sac 
raments by their very nature must produce that which 
they signify, i. e. sanctifying grace here and now present in 
the soul, because it is sanctifying grace that they ac 
tually effect, whereas they merely signify the Passion 
of Christ and the glory of Heaven, the former as an in 
dispensable requisite, the latter as a promise and a guar 

8) In this connection the Fathers and Catholic theo 
logians are wont to enlarge on a truth of great speculative 

33 Summa Thcologica, 33, qu. 60, 37 Rom. VI, 5. 

art. 3. 38 Cfr. i Cor. XI, 26. 

34 Cat. Rom., P. II, cap. i, n. 12. 39 Cfr. John VI, 57. 

35 Rom. VI, 3. 40 John VI, 55. 

36 Rom. VI, 4. 


importance with reference to the intrinsic relation be 
tween the Sacraments of the Old and those of the New 
Testament and between the latter and the glory of 
Heaven or eternal beatitude. As the ancient Synagogue 
was merely a type foreshadowing the Church, they say, so 
the New Covenant is but a type prefiguring the 
Heavenly Jerusalem, where we shall behold God as He 
is, without sign or symbol. This idea is intimated by St. 
Paul when he says in his Epistle to the Hebrews : " For 
the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not 
the very image of things." 41 In other words, the New 
Testament, too, is but a " shadow " and an " image " of 
" things " which shall not be unveiled to our eyes until 
we are in Heaven. St. Ambrose succinctly expresses 
this thought as follows : " A shadow in the law, an image 
in the Gospel, truth in Heaven." 42 The relation of the 
two Testaments with their respective Sacraments to the 
beatific vision of God in Heaven has been beautifully 
described by St. Bruno of Asti , who says : " The first 
tabernacle, therefore, is the Synagogue; the second, the 
Church ; the third, Heaven. . . . The first was in a 
shadow and an image, the second is in an image and in 
truth, and the third [will be] in the truth alone. In the 
first, life is foreshadowed ; in the second it is given ; in the 
third it is possessed." 43 This teaching was adopted by 
the Scholastics. " There is a threefold state for men," 
says St. Thomas ; " the first is that of the Old Law, . . . 

41 Heb. X, i : " Unibram (ffKidv) tabernaculum est Synagoga, secun- 
enim habens lex futurorum bonorum dum Ecclesia, tertium coelum. . . . 
[scil. N. T.], non ipsam imaginem Primum in umbra fuit et figura, 
rerum (OVK avrTjv TTJV eiKova, TOJV secundum in figura est et veritate, 
Trpa y/iaTWj )." tertium [erif] in veritate sola. In 

42 In Ps., 38, n. 25 : " Umbra in primo ostenditur vita, in secundo 
Lege, imago vero in Evangelic, datur, in tertio possidetur." St. 
veritas in coelestibus." Bruno of Asti was Bishop of Segni 

43 Horn., 34: "Primum igitur and died A. D. 1123. 


the second that of the New Law, ... the third follows 
not in this, but in the future life, i. e. in the fatherland. 
But as the first of these states is figurative and imperfect 
with regard to the state of the Gospel, so this latter is 
figurative and imperfect with regard to the state of our 
eternal home, by which it will be supplanted." 44 

e) There is a final though less important distinction 
between sensible and insensible signs. The former are 
in some manner perceptible by the senses, while the latter 
can be recognized only by immaterial beings. Sensible 
signs are, e. g., peace of mind, as indicative of the state 
of sanctifying grace, the sacramental character imprinted 
by Baptism, etc. The sacramental signs are all sensible. 
When a sick man is anointed with holy oil, this can be 
seen with the eyes; when absolution is pronounced 
in the tribunal of Penance, this can be heard with 
the ears; when a person receives Holy Communion, he 
can perceive the Sacrament with several senses simul 

Ockam 45 held that, absolutely speaking, God might 
have attached sacramental efficacy to a purely spiritual 
and immaterial sign, such as " contemplative prayer " or 
" meditation on the Passion," a view combated by 
Bellarmine for the convincing reason that a Sacrament, 
by its very definition, is connected with an external rite, 
i. e. a sensible sign of some kind. 46 

44 Summa Theol., la 2ae, qu. 106, 2; N. Gihr, Die hi. Sakramente der 

art. 4, ad i : " Triplex est hominum katholischen Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd ed., 

status. Primus quidem Veteris pp. 27 sqq., Freiburg 1902. 

Legis, . . . secundus Novae Legis, 45 Comment, in Quatuor Libras 

. . . tertius status succedit non in Sent., IV, dist. i. 

hoc vita, sed in futura, scil. in 46 Bellarmine, De Sacramentis, I, 

patria. Sed sicut primus status est 9. On the subject of this entire 

figuralis et impcrfectus respectu Section the student may profitably 

Evangelii, ita hie status est figura- consult C. Oriou, Etude Historique 

Us et imperfectus respectu status sur la Notion du Sacrement depuis 

patriae, quo veniente iste status la Fin du I er Siecle jusqu au 

evacuatur." Cfr. Franzelin, De Sa- Concile de Trente, Montauban 1899. 
cramentis in Genere, 4th ed., thes. 



Catholic theologians distinguish four different states 
through which the human race has successively passed: 
(i) The state of original justice in Paradise; (2) the 
state of the law of nature; (3) the state of the Mosaic 
Law, and (4) the state of the New Covenant. Each 
of these states has its own peculiar means of grace. 

Whether there were true Sacraments in the state 
of original innocence enjoyed by our first parents 
in Paradise, is a disputed question. The major 
ity of theologians, following St. Thomas, take 
the negative, while a respectable minority main 
tain the positive side. 

The Angelic Doctor argues that mankind required no 
means of sanctification in a state which was of itself 
holy. " In the state of innocence," he says, " man needed 
no sacraments, whether as remedies against sin or as 
means of perfecting the soul." 1 

Bellelli and others contend that the Tree of Life 2 and 
Marriage 8 might properly be called Sacraments. These 

1 Summa Theol., 33, qu. 61, art. etiam inquantum ipsa ordinantur ad 

2: "In statu innocentiae homo animae perfectionem." 

sacramentis non indigebat, non 2 " Sacramentum arboris vitae." 

solum inquantum sacramenta ordi- 3 " Sacramentum matrimonii." 
nantur ad remedium peccatl, sed 



writers appeal in support of their view to St. Augustine, 
who ascribes to the Tree of Life the miraculous im 
mortality of the body as well as the communication of 
supernatural wisdom, 4 and describes the union of Adam 
and Eve as a pattern of the mystic union between Christ 
and His Church. 5 But there is no conclusive proof that 
St. Augustine regarded these two institutions as Sacra 
ments in the technical sense of the term. The element of 
personal sanctification, so essential to the notion of a 
Sacrament, is not sufficiently evident in either, and, be 
sides, the great Bishop of Hippo probably used the word 
" Sacrament " in its wider meaning of signum rei sa- 
crae. Q 

As for St. Thomas, he did not deny that the mar 
riage of our first parents in Paradise was a true type 
of Christ s union with His Church. " Matrimony," he 
says, " was instituted in the state of innocence, not as a 
Sacrament, but for a function of nature. In regard to 
what followed, however, it foreshadowed something in 
relation to Christ and the Church, just as everything else 
foreshadowed Christ." 7 

status legis naturae, (not to be confounded with 
the status naturae purae), 8 comprises that long 

4 Cfr. St. Augustine, De Genesi ad 6 V. supra, Sect. I, No. i. 

Lit., VIII, 6: " Illud quoque addo, 1 Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 61, art. 

quamquam corporalem cibum, talem 2: " Matrimonium fuit institutum 

tamen illam arborem praestitisse, in slatu innocentiae non secundum 

qua corpus hominis sanitate stabili quod est sacramentum, sed secun- 

firmaretur, non sicut ex alio cibo, dum quod est officium naturae. In 

sed nonnulla inspiratione salubritatis consequenti tamen aliquid significa- 

occulta." Ibid., XI, 40: "[Arbor bat futurum circa Christum et Ec- 

vitae] sacramentum visibile invisi- clesiam, sicut et omnia alia quae 

bilis sapientiae." in figura Christi praecesserunt." 

5 L. c., VIII, 4. 8 On the status naturae purae see 


interval between the fall of our first parents and 
the enactment of the Mosaic dispensation, during 
which men were subject to no other law than 
that of nature, "written in their hearts." 9 The 
state of the law of nature, under the influence of 
the redemptive grace of Christ promised in the 
Protogospel, was a supernatural state, and may be 
divided into two epochs. The first of these, from 
Adam to Abraham, had a "Sacrament of Na 
ture ;" 10 the second, from Abraham to Moses, 
possessed a true Sacrament of regeneration in the 
rite of circumcision. 11 

a) It is theologically certain, and admitted by 
all Catholic divines, that from Adam to Moses 
mankind possessed a Sacrament of Nature. 

a) To deny this would be to except the infants born 
during that epoch from the divine will to save, which, as 
we have demonstrated in our treatise on Grace, is uni 
versal. 12 As God wills to save all men without exception, 
there must have been some means by which the infants 
of the pre-Mosaic period could be cleansed of original sin. 
The Fathers were firmly convinced of the existence of 
such a sacramentum naturae. St. Augustine repeatedly 
insists on its necessity. 13 Suarez states the position of the 
Schoolmen thus : " It is impious and repugnant to the 
universal tradition and sentiment of the Church, to hold 

Pohle-Preuss, God the Author of 12 Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual and 

Nature and the Supernatural, pp. Habitual, pp. 153 sqq. 

226 sqq., 2nd ed., St. Louis 1916. 13 Cfr., e. g., Contra lulian., V, 

9 Rom. II, 15. u,45: " Nee tamen credendum est, 

10 " Sacramentum naturae." et ante datam circumcisionem 

11 " Sacramentum circumcisionis." famulos Dei, quandoquidetn eis in- 


that, under the natural law and under the law of 
Moses, infants were without a remedy against original 
sin, and that consequently all who died before attaining 
to the use of reason, were damned." 14 

(3) The exact character of this sacramentum naturae 
is a matter of conjecture. All that can be said with any 
degree of certainty is : ( I ) As a medium of regenera 
tion, the Sacrament of Nature must have been based in 
some way on belief in the future Redeemer, because 
" there is no other name under heaven given to men 
whereby we must be saved." 15 (2) This faith in the 
Messias most probably found expression in a prayer and 
was symbolized by a visible sign. 16 (3) As no one but 
God can cleanse the soul of original sin, the " Natural 
Sacrament " of the pre-Abrahamic period must have 
been instituted by Him, at least in substance, though He 
may have left the determination of its form and the 
selection of the grace-conferring symbols to the free 
choice of men. St. Thomas view of the matter may 
be gathered from the following passage in the Summa: 
" It is probable that believing parents offered up some 
prayer to God for their children, especially if these were 
in any danger, or bestowed on them some blessing, as a 
seal of faith ; just as the adults offered prayers and sacri 
fices for themselves." 17 These three requisites are suf- 

erat mediatoris fides, nullo sacra- ginalis atque adeo omnes, qui mortui 

mento eius opitulatos fuisse parvulis sunt ante usum rationis, damnatos 

suis; quamvis quid illud esset, aliqua fuisse, impium est sentire et contra 

necessaria causa Scriptura latere communem ecclesiae traditionem et 

voluit." Other Patristic passages sensum." Cfr. De Lugo, De Sacra- 

bearing on this subject will be found mentis, disp. 3, sect. 2. 

in Vasquez s Comment, in Quatuor 15 Acts IV, 12. 

Libras Sent., Ill, disp. 165, cap. i. 16 This is the common opinion of 

14 De Sacramentis, disp. 10, sect. theologians, including St. Thomas 

i: "Tarn in lege naturae quam (Summa Theol., 33, qu. 61, art. 3), 

Moysis omnes infantes fuisse against Bonaventure and Vasquez. 

relictos sine remedio peccati ori- 17 Summa Theol., 33, qu. 70, 


ficient to constitute a Sacrament in the generic sense of the 

It is much more difficult, nay practically impossible, 
to decide whether, in the state of the natural law, there 
were also Sacraments for adult persons. The Thom- 
ists 18 think there were several, while other theologians 10 
reject this assumption on the ground that for the state 
of the natural law God provided only what was absolutely 
necessary, and Sacraments were not necessary because 
adults could obtain forgiveness of their sins by an act of 
perfect contrition. 

It is to be noted that for the heathen and the female 
children of the Israelites the economy of grace which 
existed in the status legls naturae remained in force 
even after the proclamation of the law of circumcision. 20 

b) At the time of Abraham, long before the 
promulgation of the Mosaic law, circumcision be 
came the ordinary means of spiritual regenera 
tion. This rite has all the characteristics of a 
true Sacrament. 

a) God promulgated the law in these words : " This 
is my covenant which you shall observe, between me and 
you, and thy seed after thee: all the male kind of you 
shall be circumcised; and you shall circumcise the flesh 
of your foreskin, that it may be for a sign of the cove- 
art. 4: " Probabile est quod Thomas, Summa Theol., 33, qu. 65, 
parentes fideles pro parvulis natis et art. i, ad 7. 

maxime in periculo existentibus 19 Notably Suarez, Vasquez, and 

aliquas Deo preces funderent vel De Lugo. 

aliquam benedictionem eis adhi- 20 On the probable nature of the 

berent, quod erat aliquod signaculum Sacramentum naturae, cfr. Franze- 
fidei, sicut adulti pro seipsis preces lin, De Sacramentis in Genere, thes. 
et sacrificia offerebant." 3, and De Augustinis, De Re Sa- 

18 . g., Gonet, basing on St. cramentaria, Vol. i, 2nd ed., pp. 17 

sqq., Rome 1889. 


nant between me and you. An infant of eight days old 
shall be circumcised among you. . . . The male whose 
flesh of his foreskin shall not be circumcised, that soul 
shall be destroyed out of his people, because he hath 
broken my covenant." 21 Here circumcision is plainly 
made a conditio sine qua non of salvation. As no one can 
be saved unless he is cleansed of original sin, circumcision 
was obviously an instrument of regeneration. This is the 
opinion of St. Thomas, 22 and though it is disputed by 
Vasquez, Tournely, and Bellarmine, 23 Suarez rightly 
maintains that the teaching of the Angelic Doctor on this 
head cannot be denied " without a certain degree of tem 
erity," especially in view of Pope Innocent Ill s declara 
tion against the Cathari, that " Original sin was for 
given and the danger of damnation avoided by the mys 
tery of the circumcision." 24 

The rite of circumcision was truly sacramental : an ex 
ternal sign, accompanied by internal grace, instituted by 
God for the remission of sin. The Fathers and Scho 
lastics could not have regarded circumcision as the type of 
Baptism, had they not believed it to be a real Sacrament. 25 

(3) In what manner did circumcision remit original sin ? 

21 Gen. XVII, 10 sgq.: "Hoc 24 Decrct., L. Ill, tit. 42, c. 3, 
est pactum meum, quod observabitis "Maiores:" " Originalis culpa re- 
inter me et vos et semen tuum post mittebatur per circumcisionis myste- 
te: circumcidetur ex vobis omne rinm et damnationis periculum vita- 
masculinum et circumcidetis earn em batur." 

praeputii vestri, ut sit in signum 25 Cfr. Col. II, n: "circumcisio 

foederis inter me et vos. Infans Christi." See St. Augustine, De 

octo dierum circumcidetur in vobis Anima, II, n, 15: "Circumcisio 

. . . Masculus, cuiits praeputii caro fuit illius temporis sacramentum, 

circumcisa non fuerit, delebitur quod figurabat nostri temporis bap- 

anima ilia de populo suo, quia pac- tismum." For a more extended ar- 

tum meum irritum fecit." gument see De Augustinis, De Re 

22 Cfr. Summa TheoL, 33, qu. Sacramentaria, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 
70, art. 4: " Ab omnibus communi- 29 sqq., and Hugo Weiss, Die mes- 
ter ponitur, quod in circumcisione sianischen Vorbilder im Alien 
peccatum originate remittebatur." Testament, pp. 58 sqq., Freiburg 

23 De Sacramentis, II, 17. 1905. 


In adults, no doubt, through the instrumentality of jus 
tifying faith (fides formata), and consequently "by the 
work of the worker" (ex op ere operctntis). But how 
about infants? This question is intimately connected 
with another, on which theologians disagree, viz.: How 
do circumcision and Baptism differ in regard to their mode 
of operation? It will prove helpful to review the varying 
opinions on these two points. 

(i) The Scotists contend that circumcision wiped out 
original sin " by the work wrought " (ex op ere operate), 2 * 
but that it was not on the same level with Baptism be 
cause it did not confer an equal measure of holiness nor 
an immediate claim to Heaven. 27 In support of this con 
tention, Scotus and his followers appeal to the authority 
of St. Augustine, who says that circumcision supplied 
the place of Baptism among the Jews, 28 and they also 

26 " There is a famous phrase L., 16, 841), so that the theological 

which is employed to express con- use does not involve a blunder in 

cisely the Catholic doctrine: the Sac- an elementary point of grammar, 

raments are said to work by the The phrase . . . opus operatum 

work wrought. This is opposed to seems to have been first used by 

the doctrine that their effect comes Peter of Poitou, a writer of the 

about by the work of the worker twelfth century {Sent,, p. 5, c. 6; 

ex opere operato, ex opere operan- P. L., 211, 1235); ... it made its 

tis. Some half-learned Latin gram- way into the common language of 

marians maintain that the first theology, partly through the influ- 

phrase ought to be translated, by ence of Pope Innocent III, who saw 

the work that works. These critics how aptly it expressed the Catholic 

forget that every word means that doctrine (De Myst. Missae, III, 5; 

which it is intended to mean by P. L., 217, 844), and finally re- 

him who uses it; and even on their ceived the sanction of the Council 

narrow ground of Latin grammar of Trent." (S. J. Hunter, S. J., 

they are wrong, for there are plenty Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 

of cases where the participle of a III, pp. 191 sq.) 

deponent verb is used passively, as 27 Cfr. Scotus, Comment. in 

may be seen in any good dictionary. Quatuor Libros Sent., IV, dist. i, 

(See dominor, ulciscor, etc.). This qu. 6, and Mastrius, De Sacra- 

very word operatum is so employed mentis, disp. i, qu. 2, art. 2. 

by Lactantius (De Instit. Divin., vii, 28 Contra Lit. Petil., II, 72: 

27; P. L., 6, 819), and by St. Am- " Certe antiquus populus Dei cir- 

brose (De Incarn., c. 9, n. 95 ; P. cumcisionem pro baptismo habuit." 


quote Pope Innocent Ill s declaration that original sin 
was remitted by the mystery of the circumcision. 29 But 
the Scotist view is incompatible with St. Paul s repeated 
assertion of the futility and inefficacy of all " works of 
the law," 30 and moreover contradicts the positive teach 
ing of the Fathers that the Sacraments of the Ancient 
Covenant had no power to forgive sins. 31 

(2) Bellarmine, Vasquez, Tournely, and a few others 
go to the opposite extreme, saying that circumcision was 
merely an external sign of Israel s covenant with Jehovah 
and a mark distinguishing the Chosen People from the 
gentiles. We have already criticized this theory because 
it suggests, or at least does not absolutely exclude, the 
implication that the circumcised infants remained in the 
state of mortal sin. This assumption is refuted by the 
same arguments which speak in favor of a sacramentum 
naturae for the pre-Mosaic period. 32 

(3) A third group endeavors to reconcile the two ex 
tremes just mentioned by saying that the remission of 
original sin depended somehow on the rite of circum 
cision, though that rite was by no means the cause but 
merely an occasion or a conditio sine qua non of justifica- 

29 Decret., L. Ill, tit. 42, c. 3, Sacrament., Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 57 
"Maiores:" " Etsi originalis culpa sqq. 

remittebatur per circumcisionis my- 32 V. supra, pp. 20 sqq. Pope Inno- 

sterium et damnationis periculum cent III says in the above-quoted 

vitabatur, non tamen perveniebatur Cap. " Maiores " (reproduced in Den- 

ad regnum coelorum, quod usque ad zinger-Bannwart, n. 410): " Absit 

mortem Christi fuit omnibus obsera- enim, ut universi parvuli pereant, 

turn." quorum quotidie tanta multitudo 

30 Cfr. Rom. Ill, 20; IV, 15; moritur, quin et ipsis misericors 
VII, 6; Gal. Ill, n sqq.; IV, 9; Deus, qui neminem vult perire, ali- 
V, 2; i Cor. VII, 19; 2 Cor. Ill, quod remedium procuraverit ad salu- 
7 sq.; Heb. VII, 18. tern." For a detailed statement see 

31 A number of Patristic texts Suarez, De Sacramentis, disp. 5, 
in proof of this assertion will be sect, i ; J. B. Sasse, De Sacramentis 
found in De Augustinis, De Re Ecclesiae, Vol. I, pp. 85 sqq., Frei 
burg 1897. 


tion. From this point of view it is clearly a sophism to 
argue, as the Scotists do : " The remission of original 
sin is effected either ex opere operato or ex opere operan- 
tis; it is not effected ex opere operantis because infants 
are incapable of justifying faith; consequently, it must 
be effected ex opere operato." For, unless we take the 
phrase ex opere operato merely as the counterpart of opus 
operans, as De Lugo does, 33 it is possible to insert between 
the two a middle term, explaining the rite of circumcision 
merely as a " sign of faith," to which regeneration is 
outwardly attached but which lacks the intrinsic power 
of effecting it. Or, to express the idea differently: 
Circumcision did not, like Baptism, wipe out original sin 
causally, as a signum demonstrativum, but merely inci 
dentally, as a signum prognosticum. This theory, which 
is held by St. Thomas and the majority of Catholic 
theologians, bears all the earmarks of truth. It takes 
into account St. Paul s teaching of the inefficacy of all 
the Old Testament ceremonies, and at the same time 
agrees with the universal teaching of the Fathers and 
the conciliary definitions of Florence and Trent. 34 

The fact that circumcision was an essential con- 

33 De Sacramentis, disp. 5, sect. cisione autem conferebatur gratia 
4, n. 59. Billuart suggested the non ex virtute circiimcisionis, sed 
term opus operatum passive for ex virtute fidei passionis Christi, 
opus operans (De Sacram., diss. 3, cuius signum erat circumcisio, ita 
art. 6). scil. quod homo, qui accipiebat cir- 

34 St. Thomas, Summa TheoL, sa, cumcisionem, profitebatur se sus- 
qu. 70, art. 4: "In circumcisione cipere talem fidem vel adultus pro 
conferebatur gratia quantum ad se rel alius pro parvulis. Unde et 
omnes gratiae effectus, aliter ta- Apostolus dicit (Rom. IV, n) quod 
men quam in baptismo. Nam in Abraham ace e pit signum circum- 
baptismo confertur gratia ex virtute cisionis signaculum iustitiae fidei, 
ipsius baptismi, quam habet inquan- quia scil. iustitia erat ex fide signifi- 
tum est instrumentum passionis cata, non ex circumcisione signifi- 
Christi iam perfectae; in circum- cante." For a fuller explanation of 


stituent of the law given to the Israelites on 
Mount Sinai shows that the Mosaic code had at 
least one Sacrament. The teaching of the Fa 
thers and councils permits us to infer that it had 
more than one. 

The existence of several Sacraments is quite in ac 
cordance with the spirit and character of the Mosaic 
economy. Being a special covenant of Yahweh with His 
Chosen People, and a type foreshadowing the " good 
things to come," the Mosaic Law not only needed to be 
more fully equipped with means of grace than the 
purely natural law, but also to foreshadow more clearly 
the future Messianic dispensation. Its ceremonies and 
precepts were calculated to keep awake the desire for the 
promised " truth and reality " and to presage and prepare 
the " liberty of the children of God." 35 

But the Mosaic Sacraments were far inferior in char 
acter and efficacy to those of the Christian dispensa 
tion, of which they were merely an intimation and a 
" shadow ; " 36 and hence what we have said about circum 
cision 37 applies to all the Sacraments of the Old Testa 

How many there were, it is impossible to ascertain. 
St. Thomas, with special reference to their character as 
types and patterns of the Sacraments of the New Testa 
ment, divides them into four categories : (a) Circum 
cision as the first and most necessary, and a pattern 
of Baptism; (b) Sacraments designed for the pres 
ervation and perfection of righteousness and to serve 

the theory discussed above see De 35 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa Theol., 

Augustinis, De Re Sacrament., Vol. 3a, qu. 61, art. 3. 

I, PP. 5i sqq. 36 V. supra, pp. 16 sq. 

37 V. supra, No. 2, pp. 19 sqq. 


as figures of the Holy Eucharist, e. g., the eating of the 
Paschal lamb, 38 the consumption of the loaves of propo 
sition, 39 and the so-called Eucharistic sacrifices, which 
were at the same time types of the Mass ; (c) Sacraments 
instituted for the expiation of sins and the cure of legal 
uncleanness, such as the various purifications prescribed 
for the laity, the washing of hands and feet imposed on 
the Levites, 40 etc. These were types of the Sacrament of 
Penance, (d) A fourth and last group had for its ob 
ject the perpetuation of the Levitic priesthood and con 
sisted of certain consecratory rites 41 which typified the 
Sacrament of Holy Orders. 42 

The only Christian Sacraments which have no counter 
parts in the Mosaic Law are Confirmation, Extreme Unc 
tion, and Matrimony. The reason is explained by St. 
Thomas as follows : " It is impossible that there should 
have been in the Old Law a Sacrament corresponding 
to Confirmation, which is the Sacrament of the fulness 
of grace, because the time of that fulness had not yet ar 
rived, and the law had not brought anything to perfection 
(Heb. VII, 19). The same must be said of the Sacra 
ment of Extreme Unction, which is a sort of immediate 
preparation for man s entrance into the state of glory; 
for this was not open in the Old Testament, as the 
price had not yet been paid. Matrimony existed in the 
Old Testament as a function of nature, but not as a 
Sacrament of Christ s union with His Church, which at 
that time had not yet been consummated. It was for 
this reason, too, that a husband under the Old Law could 

38 Ex. XII, 26. 42 On the controverted question 

39 Lev. XXIV, 9. whether the rite of consecration was 

40 Cfr. Lev. XII sqq.; Numb. administered only to Aaron and 
XIX sqq. the first generation of Jewish priests, 

41 Cfr. Ex. XXIX; XXX, 30; Lev. or to all, see P. Scholz, Die hi. 
VIII. Altertumer des Volkes Israel, Vol. 


give his wife a bill of divorce, which is repugnant to the 
nature of a Sacrament." 43 

sanctity demanded by the New Law requires more 
perfect Sacraments than those available under 
the Mosaic dispensation. 

Christ, in whom godhead and manhood are so inti 
mately united, is as it were a living Sacrament the 
personal and visible embodiment of uncreated grace. 
Similarly His Church, as the mystical image of the 
Hypostatic Union, is the visible medium of supernatural 
life, and therefore preeminently a sacramental institu 
tion. 44 

Another a priori argument for the existence of Sacra 
ments in the Christian economy is based on the nature of 
man as a compound of spirit and body, needing sensible 
signs for the communication of the higher spiritual life. 
"The state of the New Law," says St. Thomas, "is 
between the state of the Old Law, whose figures are 
fulfilled in the New, and the state of glory, in which all 
truth will be openly and perfectly revealed; wherefore 

I, p. 52, Ratisbon 1868; P. Schegg, Vetere Lege, pretio nondum soluto. 
Biblische Archdologie, p. 550, Frei- Matrimonium autem fuit quidem in 
burg 1888. Vetere Lege, prout erat in officium 
43 Siimma Theol., IE 2ae, qu. 102, naturae, non autem prout est sa- 
art. 5, ad 3: "Sacramento con- cramentum coniunctionis Christi et 
firmationis, quod est sacramentum Ecclesiae, quae nondum erat facta; 
plenitudinis gratiae, non potest re- unde et in Vetere Lege dabatur 
spondere in Vetere Lege aliquod libellus repudii, quod est contra sa- 
sacramentum, quia nondum advene- cramenti rationem." On the Sacra- 
rat tempus plenitudinis, eo quod merits of the Mosaic Law the student 
neminem ad perfectum adduxit may profitably consult Schmalzl, 
lex (Heb. VII, 19). Similiter au- Die Sakramente dcs Alien Testa- 
tern et sacramento extremae unc- mentes im allgemeinen nach der 
tionis, quod est quaedam immediata Lehre des hi. Thomas, Eichstatt 
praepar-atio ad introitum glorias, 1883. 
cuius aditus nondum patebat in 44 On this point see Scheeben, 


then there will be no Sacraments. But now, so long as 
we know through a glass in a dark manner ( i Cor. 
XIII, 12), we need sensible signs in order to reach spir 
itual things, and this is the province of the Sacra 
ments." 45 

A third argument for the necessity of Sacraments in 
the New Testament may be deduced from the circum 
stance that sin, through concupiscence, affects both soul 
and body, and the remedy must consequently be ap 
plicable to both ; that is to say, it must be partly spiritual 
and partly material. 46 

In asserting the existence of so-called parallels to the 
Christian Sacraments in the ethnic religions of antiquity, 
e. g. the cult of Mithras, the science of comparative 
religion merely furnishes another proof that the use of 
visible signs as pledges of invisible sanctification cor 
responds to a deep-rooted need of human nature. 

The Roman Catechism gives seven distinct reasons 
for the fitness of Sacraments under the Christian dis 
pensation. They are: (i) the need of visible signs, 
owing to the peculiar constitution of human nature, which 
makes the spiritual soul dependent on the senses; (2) the 
consoling assurance to be derived from the use of concrete 
pledges guaranteeing God s fidelity to His promises; (3) 
the need of healing medicines to recover or preserve the 
health of the soul ; (4) the desire of belonging to a visible 
society, knit, as it were, into one body by the bond of 

Die Mysterien des Christentums, erunt sacramenta, Nunc autem, 

3rd ed., p. 536, Freiburg 1912. quamdiu per speculum et in aeni- 

45 Summa TheoL, 33., qu. 61, art. gmate cognoscimus (i Cor. XIII, 

4, ad i: "Status Novae Legis me- 12), oportet nos per aliqua sensibilia 

dius est inter statum Veteris Legis, signa in spiritualia devenire, quod 

cuius figurae implentur Nova Lege, pertinet ad rationem sacramen- 

et inter statum gloriae, in qua torum." 

omnis nude et perfecte manifestabi- 46 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa Theo- 

tur veritas, et ideo tune nulla logica, 33, qu. 61, art. i. 


visible signs; (5) the necessity of an external profession 
of faith to distinguish Christians from infidels; (6) the 
advantage of having sacred mysteries to excite and exer 
cise the faith; and (7) the repression of pride and the 
exercise of humility involved in availing oneself of sensible 
elements in obedience to God. 47 

While it is perfectly legitimate to infer the fit 
ness of Christian Sacraments from these a 
priori considerations, this fact does not dispense 
us from proving their actual existence from Reve 

47 Cat. Rom., P. II, c. i, n. 9. der kath. Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd ed., 
On the Sacraments of the New Law pp. 34 sqq., Freiburg 1902. 
cfr. N. Gihr, Die hi. Sakramente 



THE CHURCH. After considerable wavering, 
Protestants finally adopted two Sacraments and 
two only, viz., Baptism and the Lord s Supper. 
Against this heretical error the Tridentine Coun 
cil defined: "If anyone saith that the Sacra 
ments of the New Law . . . are more or less 
than seven, to wit: Baptism, Confirmation, the 
Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, 
and Matrimony, or even that any one of these 
seven is not truly and properly a Sacrament, let 
him be anathema." l Hence it is of faith that 
there are seven Sacraments. 

Luther at first retained this dogma. But in 1520 he de 
clared that there are but three Sacraments, Baptism, 
Penance, and the Eucharist ; 2 in 1523 he reduced the num 
ber to two, Baptism and the Lord s Supper. 

l Sess. VII, can. i: " Si quis cramentum, anathema sit." (Den- 

dixerit, sacr amenta novae legis esse zinger-Bannwart, n. 844). 

plura vel pauciora quam septem, 2 De Captiv. Babyl. : " Principle 

vid. baptismum, confirmationem, neganda mihi sunt septem sacra- 

Eucharistiam, poenitentiam, extre- menta et tantum tria pro tempore 

mam unctionem, ordinem et matri- ponenda: baptismus, poenitentia, pa- 

monium, out etiam aliquod horum nis." 
septem non esse vere et proprie sa- 



Melanchthon was equally inconsistent. After assert 
ing in the first edition of his Loci Theologici (1522), 
that there are two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord s 
Supper, he later, in his Apologia (A. D. 1530), added 
" Absolution " and " Ordination." 

Zwingli and Calvin invented the two-sacrament theory, 
which has come to be generally accepted among modern 
Protestants. 3 

That there are exactly seven Sacraments, neither more 
nor less, can be demonstrated by a twofold method : first, 
by going through the several rites which the Council 
enumerates, proving that each of these answers the de 
scription of a Sacrament, and then showing that the same 
cannot be said of any other ceremonies. Second, by posi 
tively demonstrating that the Church has always believed 
in just seven Sacraments, neither more nor less. For 
pedagogical reasons we shall employ the latter method. 

The belief of the Church may be demonstrated both 
theologically and historically. 

eral centuries before the Protestant Reformation, 
the belief in seven Sacraments was universal 
throughout the Church. Now, universal belief 
in a doctrine of so great a theoretical and practi 
cal importance is certain proof of its Apostolic 
origin. Consequently, the belief in seven Sacra 
ments is not a human invention but part and 

3 Cfr. Bellarmine, De Sacram., II, seven Sacraments, though the 

23; Winer-Ewald, Komparative Thirty-nine Articles teach only two 

Darstellung des Lehrbegriffes dcr Baptism and the Eucharist. (Cfr. 

verschiedenen christlichen Kirchcn- the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclope- 

parteien, 4th ed., pp. 171 sqq., Leip- did of Religious Knowledge, Vol. X, 

zig 1882. The Anglo-Catholic school p. 144). 
in the Anglican Church believes in 


parcel of the deposit of faith handed down by 
the Apostles. 

a) The minor premise of this syllogism is based on 
the infallibility of the Church, which in turn is guaranteed 
by the abiding presence of the Holy Ghost and our Sa 
viour s promise to remain with her unto the consumma 
tion of the world. Had the Catholic Church ever, even 
for a moment, deviated from the truth, she would no 
longer be the Church of Christ. 

St. Augustine enunciates this truth in the following 
words : " Whatever is held by the whole Church, and 
was not introduced by any council, but has always been 
maintained, is rightly held to rest on the authority of 
the Apostles." 4 

b) The major premise asserts an historical 
fact which is easily demonstrable from contem 
porary documents. 

a) There is some doubt as to who first drew up our 
present list of Sacraments. For a while this list was be 
lieved to be the work of Radulphus Ardens, who flourished 
towards the end of the eleventh century, but this as 
sumption has been rendered improbable by the researches 
of Grabmann. 5 Most probably the first traces of " the 
Tridentine Seven " will yet be discovered in the hitherto 
inedited Libri Sententiarum of the schools of William 
of Champeaux (d. 1120) and Anselm of Laon (d. 1118). 
St. Otto, Bishop of Bamberg (ca. 1127), is reported by 
his biographer Herbord (d. 1168) to have left to his 

4 St. Augustine, De Baptismo, IV, tate apostolica traditum rectissime 
24: " Quod universa tenet Eccle- creditur." 

sia nee conciliis institutum, sed 5 Geschichte der scholastischen 

semper retentum est, nonnisi auctori- Methode, Vol. I, p. 250, Freiburg 



faithful flock a set of catechetical instructions, in which 
he speaks of " the seven Sacraments of the Church " 
and enumerates them just as we have them to-day, though 
in a somewhat different order. 6 At about the same time 
the learned Bishop Gregory of Bergamo (1133-1146), 
in a treatise composed against Berengarius, gives the 
number of Sacraments instituted by our Lord Jesus 
Christ as seven. 7 About the year 1150, Master Roland, 
later Pope Alexander III, enumerates seven Sacraments 
in his Book of Sentences. 8 The same number occurs in 
the statutes of Bishop Richard Poore, A. D. 1217, in the 
Statuta Edita 1222 of Archbishop Stephen Langton of 
Canterbury, 9 and in the decrees of the provincial councils 
of Oxford (1222), Clairvaux (1268), London (1272), 
and Cologne (1280). The synodal constitutions of Odo 
of Paris, A. D. 1197, give a detailed explanation of only 
six Sacraments, but the existence of a seventh (Holy 
Orders) is plainly demanded by the context. 10 Of still 
greater importance are the doctrinal decisions of various 
popes and councils, such as the profession of faith pre 
scribed by Innocent III for the Waldenses (A. D. 1210). 1X 

6 Migne, P. L., CLXXIII, 1358 Pertz, Monum. Germ. Hist., Script., 

sqq. : " Discessurus a vobis trado XX, 732. 

vobis, quae tradita sunt nobis a 1 " Scire debemus, ea solum esse 

Domino, arrham fidei sanctae inter Ecclesiae sacramenta a Servatore 

vos et Deum, septem scil. sacramenta nostro lesu instituta, quae in niedi- 

Ecclesiae, quasi septem significativa cinam nobis tributa fuere, et haec 

dona Spiritus Sancti. Ista igitur numero adimplcntur septenario." 

septem sacramenta, quae iterum ve- (Cfr. the Innsbruck Zeitschrift fur 

stri causa enumerare libet, i. e. bap- kath. Theologie, 1878, p. 800). 

tismum, confirmationem, infirmorum 8 Cfr. Gietl, Die Sentenzen Ro- 

unctionem, Eucharistiam, lapsorum lands, nachmals Papstes Alexander 

reconciliationem, coniugium et ordi- III., zum erstenmal herausgegcben, 

nes, per nos humiles suos paronym- pp. 154 sqq., Freiburg 1891. 

phos coelestis Sponsus in arrham 9 Cfr. Mansi, Condi., XXII, 1173. 

vestrae dilectionis vobis Ecclesiae ac 10 Cfr. the Mayence Katholik, 

sponsae suae transmittere dignatits 1910, II, pp. 481 sq. 

est." Cfr. Bolland., Acta Sane- n Quoted in Denzinger-Bann- 

torum, t. I, 2 lul., pp. 396 sqq. ; wart s Enchiridion, n. 424 : " Ap- 


At the Council of Lyons, A. D. 1274, the Greek Em 
peror Michael Palaeologus submitted to Pope Gregory 
X a profession of faith, in which he acknowledged that 
" the Holy Roman Church holds and teaches that there 
are seven Sacraments, namely Baptism, etc." 12 The 
Council of Constance (1418), by order of Martin V, 13 
drew up a list of questions to be addressed to the followers 
of Wiclif and Hus, of which numbers 15 to 22 refer to the 
seven Sacraments as we have them. 14 The Council of 
Florence (A. D. 1439), in its Decretum pro Armenis, 
declares that " there are seven Sacraments of the New 
Law, viz.: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Pen^ 
ance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony." 15 
/?) The official teaching of the Church was explained 
and scientifically defended by the Scholastic theologians 
of the twelfth century, not merely as a theoretical opin 
ion, but as a dogma of the faith practically applied in 
every-day life. Hugh of St. Victor (1097-1141), in his 
treatise De Caerimoniis, Sacramentis, Officiis et Obser- 
vationibus Ecclesiasticis enumerates the seven Sacra 
ments and describes them one by one. Peter Lombard, 
who flourished at about the same time, 17 begins his treatise 
on the subject with these words: "Now let us enter 
upon the Sacraments of the New Law, which are : Bap 
tism, Confirmation, the Blessing of Bread or Eucharist, 

probamus ergo baptismum infantium, tio, Eucharistia, poenitentia, ex- 

. . . confirmationem ab episcopo fac- trema unctio, ordo et matrimonium." 

tarn, etc." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 695). On 

12 Ibid., n. 465: "Tenet etiam the enumeration and proper se- 
et docet Sancta Romano Ecclesia, quence of the Sacraments see 
septem esse ecclesiastica sacramenta, Krawutzky, Z dhlung und Ordnung 
unum scil. baptisma, etc." der Sakramente, Breslau 1865. 

13 See the Bull " Inter Cunctas." 16 The authorship of this treatise, 

14 Cfr. Denzinger-Bannwart, n. however, is not quite certain; some 
665 sqq. ascribe it to Robert Pulleyn. 

15" Novae legis septem sunt sa- 1 7 Died A. D. 1164. 

cramenta, vid. bvptismus, confirma- 


Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony." 18 
The fact that up to the middle of the thirteenth century 
various writers, mostly commentators on the Canon Law 
of the Church, differed in giving the number of the Sacra 
ments, was due partly to the prevailing vagueness in the 
use of the term " Sacrament," and partly to the compila- 
tory character of their writings. 19 The great Scholas 
tics, headed by St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas of 
Aquin, unhesitatingly accepted the teaching of Peter 
Lombard and were at pains to show the congruity of 
the septenary number as afterwards defined by the Coun 
cil of Trent. Thus Dominicus Soto writes : " There is 
no question as to the certainty of the number [seven], 
since that is settled by ecclesiastical tradition and usage ; 
but we shall inquire into its congruity." 20 

This brief survey shows that the Tridentine 
definition was simply the solemn confirmation of 
a doctrine which had been in undisputed posses 
sion for at least four centuries before the Protes 
tant Reformation. 

matic truth that has been constantly held by the 
universal Church, rests on the authority of the 
Apostles, and consequently, of Christ. 21 Now, it 

18 Sent., IV, dist. 2, n. 2: "lam numeri ccrtitudine; ilia siquidem 
ad sacramenta novae legis acceda- Ecclesiae traditione et usu citra dis- 
mus, quae sunt : baptismus, con- putationem constantissima est; sed 
firmatio, panis benedictio, i. e. Eu- de eius convenientia." 

charistia, poenitentia, unctio ex- 21 Cfr. Tertullian, De Praescr., c. 

trema, or do, coniugium." 28: " Ceterum quod apud multos 

19 Cfr. the Katholik, 1909, II, pp. -unum invenitur, non est erratum, 
182 sqq. sed traditum." V. St. Augustine, 

20 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. i, supra, p. 34, note 4. 
qu. 6, art. i : " Non quaeritur de 


can be shown that the Church has at all times be 
lieved in and administered the seven Sacraments 
as we have them to-day, and that even the hereti 
cal sects which broke loose from Catholic unity 
in the early centuries, held the same doctrine re 
garding the number of the Sacraments as that 
later defined by the Council of Trent. 

a) It is an historical fact that "the Tridentine 
Seven" was in undisputed possession at the time 
of St. Otto of Bamberg, A. D. 1127. 

While the followers of Wiclif and Hus attacked the 
Catholic teaching with regard to the requisites of valid 
ity, claiming that a Sacrament cannot be validly ad 
ministered by one who is in the state of mortal sin, they 
never denied that there are seven Sacraments, neither 
more nor less. 

b) Going three centuries further back we 
come to the Greek schism of Photius, A. D. 869. 

Though this learned heretic was constantly seeking 
for pretexts to justify the secession of the Greek Church 
from Rome, he never once accused the Latins of having 
abolished any of the traditional Sacraments or introduced 
new ones. Both Churches were so perfectly at one in 
their belief on this point, even after the schism, that 
no essential difference of opinion came to light in the 
repeated efforts for reunion made at Lyons (A. D. 1274) 
and Florence (A. D. 1439). Though the reunion 
patched up at Florence came to a bad end, the schismatic 
Greeks continued to believe in seven Sacraments, as the 

22 V. supra, No. i, pp. 32 sq. 


Lutherans found to their sorrow when they tried to 
" convert " them. Jeremias, Patriarch of Constantinople, 
in 1573, politely but firmly rejected the overtures of 
Martin Crusius and Jacob Andrea, of the theological 
faculty of Tubingen, and in a long letter refuted the 
Lutheran innovations point for point. He said inter alia: 
" We solemnly affirm that the holy Fathers have handed 
down to us ... seven divine Sacraments, viz.: Baptism, 
Anointment with Sacred Chrism, Holy Communion, 
Order, Matrimony, Penance, and the Oil of the last 
Unction, . . . neither more nor less. . . . And all these 
means of our salvation have been handed down to us 
by Christ Himself, our Lord God, and His Apostles." 23 
When, in 1581, the Tubingen divines again appealed to 
Jeremias, he bluntly told them to cease their fruitless 
efforts. 24 Half a century later an attempt was made 
by a traitor to force the Protestant heresy on the Greek 
Church. Cyril Lucar, a Greek priest, who had es 
poused Calvinism and somehow managed to intrigue 
his way into the patriarchal see of Constantinople, in 
a Calvinistic confession of faith which he drew up in 
Latin, in 1629, and subsequently translated into Greek, 
asserted that there are but two Sacraments. The Greek 
Church at once took alarm, and Cyril was sent into 
exile (1634). In 1637 he purchased his return by bribery 

23 V. Arnaud, Perpetuite de la tradidit et sancti eius Apostoli." 
Foi, t. V, 1. i, c. 3: " Dicimus 24. " Rogamus itaque vos, ne 

praeclare nobis sanctos tradidisse posthac labores nobis exhibeatis 

Patres, . . . septem divina sacra- neque de iisdem scribatis et scripta 

vnenta esse. baptismum scil., sacri mittatis." For further particulars 

chrismatis unctionem, sacram com- concerning this remarkable corres- 

munionem, ordinem, matrimonium, pondence between the Lutheran di- 

poenitentiam et extremae unctionis vines of Tubingen and the Patriarch 

oleum, . . . non plura nee pandora of Constantinople, see Schelstrate, 

esse, . . . Et hacc quidcm omnia Acta Orient. Ecclesiae contra Lu- 

salutis nostrae remedia ipse Icsus theri Hacresim, I, 151 sqq., 202 sqq., 

Christ us Deus et Dominus nosier 246 sqq., Rome 1739. 


and succeeded in having himself reinstated. Thereupon 
the indignation of both clergy and people against the man 
who dared to set his private opinion above the com 
mon belief of the faithful could no longer be restrained. 
The unworthy Patriarch was condemned by a council 
at Constantinople (A. D. 1638), and, being moreover 
suspected of favoring an invasion of the Turkish Em 
pire by the Cossacks, was strangled by order of the Sultan 
and his body cast into the sea. His " Confession of 
Faith " was condemned and anathema passed upon him by 
a synod assembled at Constantinople in September, i638. 25 

Four years later, at a council held under the presidency 
of Parthenius, who was a cordial hater of Rome, there 
was adopted a Confessio Fidel Orthodoxae drawn up by 
Peter Mogilas, metropolitan of Kieff, in which the Latin 
doctrine as to the number of Sacraments held a prominent 
place. This important symbol in the following year re 
ceived the official signatures of all four Oriental patri 
archs and of numerous bishops, and was solemnly ap 
proved by a council held at Jerusalem in 1672. 

These official declarations find their practical confirma 
tion in the liturgical books of the Orthodox Church, 
both ancient and modern, 26 and are not denied even by 
such radical schismatic theologians as Simon of Thessa- 
lonica (d. 1429), Gabriel of Philadelphia, Meletius Syri- 
gus, Coresius, and his pupil Georgios Protosynkellos. 
Only a few years ago the Orthodox Provost Maltzew, of 
the Russian embassy in Berlin, wrote: " While the 
Roman Church and all the heterodox Oriental churches 
are in perfect agreement with the Orthodox Catholic 

25 Cfr. Alzog-Pabisch-Byrne, Man- 26 Cfr. Goar, Euchologium sive 

ual of Universal Church History, Rituals Graecorum, Paris 1647. 
Vol. Ill, $th ed., pp. 465 sqq., 
Cincinnati 1899. 


Church of the East in regard to the doctrine that there 
are seven Sacraments, the sects based on the Protestant 
Reformation admit but two, and interpret even these in 
a different sense from the Orthodox Church." 27 

In view of the origin of the Greek schism and the great 
animosity existing between the two churches, it is impos 
sible to assume that the doctrine of the seven Sacraments 
was borrowed by the West from the East, or vice versa; 
both churches must have derived it from a common 
source before the Orient severed its connection with the 
Latin Church. In other words, the Church of Christ 
had her seven Sacraments long before the time of Pho- 
tius. 28 

c) Another step takes us back to that agitated 
period when the Nestorians and the Monophysites 
broke away from Catholic unity. 

a) Did these ancient heretics hold any other doctrine 
as to the number of Sacraments than that defined at 
Trent ? No. Their liturgical books contain the Catholic 
dogma in all its purity, and thus furnish clear and in 
disputable evidence that it antedates the fifth century, when 
these sects separated from the Church. 

/?) This argument loses nothing of its force by the 
curious circumstance that, in the course of ecclesiastical 
history, a few individual writers belonging to these sects 
have rejected one or the other Sacrament and substi- 

27 Maltzew, Die Sakramcnte der Sacraments among the Nestorians 
orthodox-katholischen Kirche des and Monophysites may be studied in 
Morgenlandes, p. C, Berlin 1898. Assemani s Bibliotheca Orient., vols. 

28 The rites of the Copts, Syrians, II and III. Much valuable material 
and Armenians have been collected is also furnished by Arnaud in his 
and published by Denzinger, Kit us great work Perpetuite de la Foi, vol. 
Orientalium, 2 vols., Wurzburg III, 1. 8, c. 18 sqq. 

1863 sqq. The administration of the 


tuted in its place some ceremony or rite which the Church 
has never acknowledged as sacramentary. The very fact 
that these innovators never deviated from the number 
seven, proves that there were seven Sacraments, neither 
more nor less, from the beginning. The Greek monks 
Job and Damascene of Thessalonica, e. g., after arbitrarily 
adding the monastic habit 29 to the list of Sacraments, re 
stored the traditional number seven by contracting Pen 
ance and Extreme Unction into one (Job) or striking 
Penance entirely from the list (Damascene). Equally 
characteristic is the procedure of Vartanus, a thirteenth- 
century Armenian of Monophysitic proclivities, who sub 
stituted the " burial service " 30 to fill the vacancy he 
had created in the roster of Sacraments by fusing Penance 
with Extreme Unction. These authors got their new 
" Sacraments " from a misunderstood passage in the writ 
ings of Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, where the four 
" consecratory " Sacraments Baptism, Confirmation, the 
Eucharist, and Holy Orders are immediately followed 
by the rite for the blessing of altars, the monastic habit, 
benediction, and the funeral service. 

It is not so easy to explain how the Nestorian Ebed 
Jesu (d. 1318) came to deny the Sacraments of Matri 
mony and Extreme Unction and to replace them by the 
Sign of the Cross 31 and the " Holy Ferment," whatever 
that may have meant. 32 Perhaps these and similar 
vagaries owed their origin to the ignorance of hermits who 
were far removed from the centres of ecclesiastical learn 
ing and deprived of even ordinary means of instruction. 33 
The genuine doctrine of these sects and their authentic 
practice must be studied in the liturgical books which 

29 Habitus sacer s. monasticus, 32 Sacrum fermentum. 
Ka\oyopiKrj ?} r6 pAya ffXVl* " 33 On the ig nor ance of the Copts 

30 Funus super defunctos. cfr. the Bollandist P. Sollerius, S. 

31 Signum vivificae crucis. J., Acta Sanctor., t. V, pp. 140 sqq. 


contain the primitive rites of the Sacraments, as stated 
under a). 34 

d) If the belief of the Church in regard to such 
an important dogma as the number of the Sac 
raments instituted by Christ, had undergone 
any essential change between the Apostolic age 
and the time of Nestorius, this change, whether 
slow or sudden, would necessarily have left its 
traces in history. 

The bishops and the faithful of the first four cen 
turies jealously guarded the purity of the Apostolic de 
posit, especially in those matters which involved daily 
practice. The learned and zealous Fathers who did not 
hesitate to shed their blood in defense of the orthodox 
faith against the anti-Trinitarian and Christological here 
sies, would surely have sounded the alarm had anyone 
tried to tamper with the doctrine of the Sacraments. 
Even if, for argument s sake, we were to grant that the 
primitive Church knew but two or three Sacraments, it 
would have been impossible, aside from her infallibility 
and indefectibility, for any innovator to introduce a com 
plete set of new sacramental rites without incurring the 
determined opposition of bishops, priests, and people. 
Hence we may safely conclude with Father Hunter that 
" the doctrine now held by all who reject the authority 
of the Tridentine Council, is certainly not Apostolic nor 
traditional ; it is a novelty no older than the sixteenth 
century; it is therefore a freshly introduced doctrine, 
resting on the authority of Luther or some of his con- 

34 Page 41, supra. For further information on this topic see Franze- 
lin, De Sacram. in Genere, thes. 20. 


temporaries : it is therefore not to be received, unless the 
teacher produce his credentials as a divine messenger, 
and this he is unable to do." 35 The Catholic doctrine 
that there are seven Sacraments is of Apostolic origin, and 
hence derived from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 36 

As there are reasons of congruity for the ex 
istence of Sacraments under the Christian dis 
pensation, 37 so there are reasons why there should 
be precisely seven, neither more nor less. 

a) The human intellect is not, of course, able to es 
tablish this number with mathematical certainty on a 
priori grounds. Absolutely speaking, God had it in 
His power to institute as many Sacraments as He pleased. 
But it is easy to see, a posteriori, that the septenary 
admirably corresponds to the practical needs of man s 
composite nature. This was admitted even by Goethe, 
pagan though he was. 38 We will not enter into useless 

35 S. J. Hunter, S. J., Outlines on the spur of the moment; he 
of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. Ill, p. needs a sequence from which results 
178. habit; what he is to love and to 

36 The argument from prescription perform, he cannot represent to 
for the septenary number of the himself as single or isolated; and, 
Sacraments is very ably set forth if he is to repeat anything will- 
by Card. Bellarmine, De Sacram., ingly, it must not have become 
II, 23 sqq. The student will also strange to him. If the Protestant 
profit by consulting Heinrich-Gutber- worship lacks fulness in general, so 
let, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. IX, let it be investigated in detail, and 
500. it will be found that the Protestant 

37 V. supra, pp. 30 sq. has too few sacraments, nay, in- 

38 See the famous passage in his deed, he has only one in which he 
Autobiography, tr. by J. Oxenford, is himself an actor, the Lord s Sup- 
Vol. I, pp. 239 sqq., Philadelphia, per; for baptism he sees only when 
1882: "In moral and religious, as it is performed on others, and is 
well as in physical and civil matters, not greatly edified by it. The sac- 
man does not like to do anything raments are the highest part of 



speculations about the " mystic number seven," but merely 
note that there is a remarkable analogy between the nat 
ural life of the body and the supernatural life of the soul, 
to both of which the Sacraments so wonderfully minister. 

religion, the symbols to our senses 
of an extraordinary divine favor 
and grace. In the Lord s Supper 
earthly lips are to receive a divine 
Being embodied, and partake of a 
heavenly, under the form of an 
earthly nourishment. This import 
is the same in all kinds of Chris 
tian churches: whether the sacra 
ment is taken with more or less 
submission to the mystery, with 
more or less accommodation as to 
that which is intelligible, it re 
mains a great, holy thing, which 
in reality takes the place of the 
possible or the impossible, the place 
of that which man can neither at 
tain nor do without. But such a 
sacrament should not stand alone: 
no Christian can partake of it with 
the true joy for which it is given, 
if the symbolical or sacramental 
sense is not fostered within him. 
He must be accustomed to regard 
the inner religion of the heart and 
that of the external church as per 
fectly one, as the great universal 
sacrament, which again divides it 
self into so many others, and com 
municates to these parts its holiness, 
indestructibility, and eternity. 

" Here a youthful pair join 
hands, not for a passing saluta 
tion or for the dance: the priest 
pronounces his blessing upon them, 
and the bond is indissoluble. It 
is not long before this wedded pair 
bring a likeness to the threshold 
of the altar: it is purified with 
holy water, and so incorporated into 
the church, that it cannot forfeit 
this benefit but through the most 
monstrous apostasy. The child in 
the course of life goes on progress 

ing in earthly things of his own 
accord, in heavenly things he must 
be instructed. Does it prove on ex 
amination that this has been fully 
done, he is now received into the 
bosom of the church as an actual 
citizen, as a true and voluntary 
professor, not without outward tok 
ens of the weightiness of this act. 
Now, only, he is decidedly a Chris 
tian, now for the first time he 
knows his advantages and also his 
duties. But, in the mean time, a 
great deal that is strange has hap 
pened to him as a man: through 
instruction and affliction he has come 
to know how critical appears the 
state of his inner self, and there 
will constantly be a question of 
doctrines and of transgressions; but 
punishment shall no longer take 
place. For here, in the infinite con 
fusion in which he must entangle 
himself, amid the conflict of nat 
ural and religious claims, an ad 
mirable expedient is given him, in 
confiding his deeds and misdeeds, 
his infirmities and doubts, to a 
worthy man, appointed expressly for 
that purpose, who knows how to 
calm, to warn, to strengthen him, 
to chasten him likewise by sym 
bolical punishments, and at last, by 
a complete washing away of his 
guilt, to render him happy, and 
to give him back, pure and 
cleansed, the tablet of his man 
hood. Thus prepared, and purely 
set at rest by several sacramental 
acts, which on closer examination 
branch forth again into minuter 
sacramental traits, he kneels down 
to receive the host; and, that the 
mystery of this high act may be 


St. Thomas develops this thought in the third part of the 

" The Sacraments of the Church were instituted for 
a twofold purpose: namely, in order to perfect man in 

still enhanced, he sees the chalice 
only in the distance: it is no com 
mon eating and drinking that satis 
fies, it is a heavenly feast, which 
makes him thirst after heavenly 

" Yet let not the youth believe 
that ^his is all he has to do: let 
not even the man believe it. In 
earthly relations we are at last ac 
customed to depend on ourselves; 
and, even there, knowledge, under 
standing, and character will not al 
ways suffice: in heavenly things, on 
the contrary, we have never fin 
ished learning. The higher feeling 
within us, which often finds itself 
not even truly at home, is, besides, 
oppressed by so much from with 
out, that our own power hardly 
administers all that is necessary 
for counsel, consolation, and help. 
But, to this end, that remedy is 
instituted for our whole life; and 
an intelligent, pious man is con 
tinually waiting to show the right 
way to the wanderers, and to re 
lieve the distressed. 

" And what has been so well tried 
through the whole life, is now to 
show forth all its healing power 
with tenfold activity at the gate 
of death. According to a trustful 
custom, inculcated from youth up 
wards, the dying man receives with 
fervor those symbolical, significant 
assurances; and there, where every 
earthly warranty fails, he is as 
sured, by a heavenly one, of a 
blessed existence for all eternity. 
He feels perfectly convinced that 
neither a hostile element nor a 
malignant spirit can hinder him from 
clothing himself with a glorified 

body, so that, in immediate rela 
tion with the Godhead, he may 
partake of the boundless happiness 
which flows forth from Him. 

" Then, in conclusion, that the 
whole man may be made holy, the 
feet also are anointed and blessed. 
They are to feel, even in the event 
of possible recovery, a repugnance 
to touching this earthly, hard, im 
penetrable soil. A wonderful elas 
ticity is to be imparted to them, 
by which they spurn from under 
them the clod of earth which 
hitherto attracted them. And so, 
through a brilliant cycle of equally 
holy acts, the beauty of which we 
have only briefly hinted at, the 
cradle and the grave, however far 
asunder they may chance to be, are 
joined in one continuous circle. 

" But all these spiritual wonders 
spring not, like other fruits, from 
the natural soil, where they can 
neither be sown nor planted nor 
cherished. We must supplicate for 
them from another region, a thing 
which cannot be done by all per 
sons nor at all times. Here we 
meet the highest of these symbols, 
derived from pious tradition. We 
are told that one man may be 
more favored, blessed, and sanctified 
from above than another. But, that 
this may not appear as a natural 
gift, this great boon, bound up 
with a heavy duty, must be com 
municated to others by one author 
ized person to another; and the 
greatest good that a man can at 
tain, without his having to ob 
tain it by his own wrestling and 
grasping, must be preserved and 
perpetuated on earth by spiritual 


things pertaining to the worship of God according to the 
Christian life, and to be a remedy against the defects 
caused by sin. And in either way it is becoming that 
there should be seven Sacraments. For spiritual life 
has a certain conformity with the life of the body: just 
as other corporeal things have a certain likeness to things 
spiritual. Now man attains perfection in the corporeal 
life in two ways : first, in regard to his own person ; sec 
ondly, in regard to the whole community of the society in 
which he lives, for man is by nature a social animal. 
With regard to himself man is perfected in the life of 
the body in two ways: first, directly (per se), i. e. by 
acquiring some vital perfection ; secondly, indirectly (per 
accidens), i. e. by the removal of hindrances to life, such 
as ailments or the like. Now the life of the body is per 
fected directly, in three ways. First, by generation, 
whereby a man begins to be and to live : and correspond 
ing to this in the spiritual life there is Baptism, which is 
a spiritual regeneration. . . . Secondly, by growth, 
whereby a man is brought to perfect size and strength : 
and corresponding to this in the spiritual life there is 
Confirmation, in which the Holy Ghost is given to 

inheritance. In the very ordina- the knee, but the blessing which 
tion of the priest is comprehended he imparts, and which seems the 
all that is necessary for the effec- more holy, and to come the more 
tual solemnizing of those holy acts immediately from heaven, because 
by which the multitude receive grace, the earthly instrument cannot at all 
without any other activity being weaken or invalidate it by its own 
needful on their part than that of sinful, nay, wicked nature, 
faith and implicit confidence. And " How is this truly spiritual con- 
thus the priest joins the line of ception shattered to pieces in Protes- 
his predecessors and successors, in tantism, by part of the above-men- 
the circle of those anointed with tioned symbols being declared 
him, representing the highest source apocryphal, and only a few canorfi- 
of blessings, so much the more glo- cal! and how, by their indifference 
riously, as it is not he, the priest, to one of these, will they prepare 
whom we reverence, but his office; us for the high dignity of the 
it is not his nod to which we bow others. " 


strengthen us. ... Thirdly, by nourishment, whereby life 
and strength are preserved to man : and corresponding to 
this in the spiritual life there is the Eucharist. . . . 
This would be enough for man if he had an impassible 
life, both corporally and spiritually; but since man is lia 
ble at times to both corporal and spiritual infirmity, i. e. 
sin, he needs a cure for his infirmity. This cure is 
twofold. One is the healing that restores health: and 
corresponding to this in the spiritual life there is Pen 
ance. . . . The other is the restoration of former vigor 
by means of suitable diet and exercise: and correspond 
ing to this in the spiritual life there is Extreme Unction, 
which removes the remainders of sin and prepares man 
for final glory. ... In regard to the whole community, 
man is perfected in two ways. First, by receiving power 
to rule the community and to exercise public acts : and cor 
responding to this in the spiritual life there is the Sacra 
ment of Order. . . . Secondly, in regard to natural propa 
gation. This is accomplished by Matrimony both in the 
corporal and in the spiritual life: since it is not only a 
Sacrament but also a function of nature. 

" We may likewise gather the number of the Sacra 
ments from their being instituted as a remedy against 
the defect caused by sin. For Baptism is intended as a 
remedy against the absence of spiritual life ; Confirmation, 
against the infirmity of soul found in those of recent birth ; 
the Eucharist, against the soul s proneness to sin; Pen 
ance, against actual sin committed after Baptism; Ex 
treme Unction, against the remainders of sins, of those 
sins, namely, which are not sufficiently removed by 
Penance, whether through negligence or through ignor 
ance; Order, against divisions in the community; Matri 
mony, as a remedy against concupiscence in the individ- 


ual, and against the decrease in numbers that results from 
death." 39 

This beautiful argument has been as it were officially 
approved and consecrated by the Church through its em 
bodiment in the Decretum pro Armenis (1439) 40 an d the 
Roman Catechism. 41 

b) The Scholastics, from Peter Lombard to Suarez, 
devoted much ingenuity to demonstrating the intrinsic 
fitness of the septenary number of the Sacraments. Per 
haps the most original conception is that of St. Bonaven- 
ture, who argues from the vicissitudes to which every 
Christian is subject in his capacity as a soldier of Christ. 
" Baptism," he says, " is [the Sacrament] of those that 
enter the army ; Confirmation, that of the combatants en 
gaged in actual battle ; the Eucharist, that of the soldiers 
regaining strength ; Penance, that of the fighters arising 
from defeat ; Extreme Unction, that of the departing; Or 
der, that of the officers charged with training new soldiers ; 
Matrimony, that of the men whose business it is to fur 
nish recruits." 42 He proves the same thesis from the 
functions of the different Sacraments as remedies for vari 
ous diseases of the soul : " There are seven different 

39 Summa TheoL, 3a, qu. 65, art. sanamur; spiritualiter etiam et cor- 
i. poraliter, prout animae expedit, per 

40 Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 695: extremam unctionem. Per ordinem 
" Novae legis septem sunt sacra- vero Ecclesia gubernatur et multi- 
menta. . . . Horum quinque prima plicatur spiritualiter; per matrimo- 
ad spiritualem uniuscuiusque hominis nium corporaliter augetur." 

in seipso perfectionem, duo iiltima 41 P. II, c. i, n. 18. 
ad totius Ecclesiae regimen mulii- 42 Breviloquium, P. VI, cap. 3: 
plicationemque ordinata sunt. Per " Baptismus est ingredientium, con- 
baptismum enim spiritualiter rena- firmatio pugnantium, Eucharistia 
scimur ; per confirmationem augemur vires resumentium, poenitentia re 
in gratia et roboramur in fide ; renati surgentium, extrema unctio exeun- 
autem et roborati nutrimur divinae Hum, ordo novos milites introducen- 
Eucharistiae alimonia; quodsi per tium, matrimonium novos milites 
peccatum aegritudinem incurrimus praeparantium." 
animae, per poenitentiam spiritualiter 


kinds of diseases, three of guilt, vis.: original sin, mortal 
sin, and venial sin; and four of punishment, vis.: igno 
rance, malice, infirmity, and concupiscence. . . . Against 
each of these special remedies must be applied. . . . Bap 
tism, against original sin ; Penance, against mortal sin ; Ex 
treme Unction, against venial sin; Order, against igno 
rance ; the Eucharist, against malice ; Confirmation, against 
infirmity; and Matrimony, against concupiscence." 43 
Combining the three theological with the four cardinal vir 
tues into a series of seven, the Saint draws a parallel be 
tween them and the Sacraments, as follows : " Bap 
tism disposes for faith, Confirmation for hope, the Eu 
charist for charity, Penance for justice, Extreme Unction 
for perseverance, which is the complement and sum of 
fortitude, Holy Orders for prudence, and Matrimony for 
temperance." 44 

c) To compare the seven Sacraments with the seven 
capital sins 45 or with the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, 
is rather far-fetched. The mythological interpretation 
of the number seven as the outward embodiment of the 
" seven eyes of God," i. e. the planets, may be explained 
by the fact that the coryphaei of Scholasticism were 
ignorant of the apocalyptic and cabalistic juggling at- 

43 Ibid. : " Morbus est septi- 44 Ibid. : " Baptismus disponit ad 

formis: triplex culpabilis, soil, culpa fidem, confirmatio ad spem, Eu- 

originalis, mortalis et venialis, et charistia ad caritatem; poenitentia 

quadruplex poenalis: scil. ignorantia, ad iustitiam, unctio extrema ad 

malitia, infirmitas et ccncupiscentia. perseverantiam, quae est fortitudinis 

. . . Hinc est quod oportuit adhiberi complementum et summa, ordo ad 

. . . contra originalem baptismum, prudentiam, matrimonium ad tem- 

contra mortalem poenitentiam, perantiam conservandam." Cfr. P. 

contra venialem unctionem extre- Minges, O.F.M., Compendium Theol. 

mam; contra ignorantiam ordinem, Dogmat. Specialis, Vol. II, p. 12, 

contra malitiam Eucharistiam, Munich 1901. 

contra infirmitatem confirmationem 45 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa 

et contra concupiscentiam matri- Theol., 33, qu. 65, art. 5. 


tributed to them by modern writers on the history of 
comparative religion. 46 

Though the Sacraments were in use from the 
beginning, and references to all of them occur in 
the writings of the Fathers, there is nowhere to 
be found in Patristic literature an express state 
ment that there are exactly seven, neither more 
nor less. It may be asked : Why was the work 
of synthesis left to the Scholastics of the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries? Several reasons ac 
count for the silence of the Fathers on this 
head: (i) the conditions of the time, (2) the 
discipline of the secret, and (3) the fact that sac 
ramental theology developed rather slowly. 

a) The silence of the Fathers with regard to the num 
ber of the Sacraments proves nothing against the " Tri- 
dentine Seven." One may own a lot of precious gems 
without making an inventory of them. We shall briefly 
explain the reasons why it never occurred to the writers of 
the Patristic period to draw up a formal list of the Sac 

a) The circumstances of the time were not favorable 
to the double task of working out a scientific definition 
and applying it to the various rites in use. " From the 

46 The analogy between the seven den Sakramenten, Vol. I, $th ed., 

Sacraments and the seven capital 12, Miinster 1884; N. Gihr, Die 

sins is very popular among the Sakramente der kath. Kirche, Vol. 

schismatic Greeks. On the whole I, 2nd ed., pp. 173 sqq., Freiburg 

subject of this subdivision cfr. Os- 1902. 
wald, Die dogmatische Lehre von 


beginning the Church has always lived by her Sacraments 
and has always had faith in their marvelous efficacy, . . . 
but she did not from the beginning consider them system 
atically, ranging them under the concept of efficacious 
symbols of grace. This was a work of synthesis ac 
complished only later by theological speculation." 47 
Hence we need not wonder that Tertullian mentions one 
class of Sacraments - and passes over the others in si 
lence, 48 or that St. Cyril of Jerusalem treats of three or 
four without adverting to the existence of the rest. 49 The 
Fathers in each case wrote from a strictly practical point 
of view, with the intention of satisfying actual needs, such 
as the instruction of the faithful or catechumens and the 
refutation of heretics. 50 Usually it is the teaching of 
the Church on Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist 
that is briefly summarized for the benefit of neophytes. 51 
The general division that naturally suggested itself to the 
minds of those early writers was that into sacramenta 
consecratoria and sacramenta medicinalia. The sacra 
menta consecratoria (Baptism, Confirmation, the Euchar 
ist, and Holy Orders) 52 claimed their main interest. In 
limiting their attention to this group, the Fathers by no 
means wished to deny the existence of the sacramenta 
medicinalia (Penance, Extreme Unction, and Matri 
mony). 53 

(3) Another reason why no effort was made in the early 
days to determine the exact number of the Sacraments, 

47 P. Pourrat, Theology of the 03 For a more detailed treatment 
Sacraments, p. 257, St. Louis 1914. see Pourrat, La Theologie Sacra- 

48 De Resurrect. Carnis, c. 8. mentaire, pp. 232 sqq., 4th ed., 

49 Catech. Mystag. Paris 1910 (English translation, pp. 
60 Cfr. Pourrat, op. cit., p. 260. 259 sqq.) ; cfr. also J. Scheeben, 

51 St. Ambrose, De Myst. and De Die Mysterien des Christentums, 
Sacram. 3rd ed., pp. 507 sqq., Freiburg 

52 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa 1912. 
TheoL, 33, qu. 63, art. 6. 


was the disciplina arcani, which enjoined secrecy with 
regard to sacramental rites. The sacred mysteries shrank 
from the broad daylight which at a later age enabled the 
Scholastics to analyze them minutely in public. The 
" discipline of the secret " was strictly enforced through 
out the Patristic period. Every copy of St. Cyril s Ca- 
techeses 54 bore a notice requesting the owner not to show 
it to catechumens and non-Christians generally, nor to al 
low copies to be made without prefixing a similar warn 
ing. 55 In St. Cyril s day the faithful were instructed 
never to speak of the mysteries of their religion in the 
presence of outsiders. 56 The phrase " norunt initiati" 
occurs at least fifty times in the writings of St. Chrysos- 
tom. Where he speaks of Baptism he remarks : " I 
should like to express myself freely on this subject, but 
cannot do so on account of the presence of some who are 
not initiated." 57 In the West the disciplina arcani sur 
vived far into the fifth century. St. Augustine says : " Let 
not the sacraments of the faithful be revealed to the 
catechumens." 58 Pope Innocent the First refused to di 
vulge the formula of Confirmation. 59 

54 See apud Migne, P. G., (Migne, P. G., LXI, 348). The 
XXXIII. relevant texts collated by Val. 

55 " Catecheses istas illuminatorum Schmitt, Die Verheissung der Eu- 
iis quidem, qui ad baptismum acce- charistie (.Joh. Kap. 6) bei den 
dunt et fidelibus qui lavacrum iam Antiochenern, Cyrill von Jerusalem 
susceperunt exhibens, catechumenis und Johannes Chrysostomus, pp. 
et aliis quibuslibet, qui Christiani 47 sqq., Wiirzburg 1903. 

non sunt, ne dederis; et si harum 58 Tract, in loa., 96, n. 3: 

exemplar transcripseris, per Domi- " Catechumenis sacramenta fidelium 

num rogo, hoc monitum praefigas." non prodantur." (Migne, P. L., 

(Migne, /. c., 366). XXXV, 1857). 

56 St. Cyril, Catech., 6, n. 29: 59 Apud Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 
" De mysteriis neque apud catechu- 98: " Verba vero dicere non pos- 
menos palam verba facimus." sum, ne magis prodere videar quam 
(Migne, /. c. t 590). ad consultationem respondere." On 

57 Horn, in i Cor., 40, n. i : the discipline of the secret cfr. 
" Volo quidem aperte hoc dicere, sed Schelstrate, De Disciplina Arcani, 
non possum propter non initiates." Rome 1685. See also Dollinger, 


y) No doubt the development of the septenary num 
ber was impeded by the discipline of the secret. But even 
after that discipline had been abolished, a long time elapsed 
before the number became definitively fixed. No progress 
could be made in this direction until a precise definition 
had been worked out. " For that definition being the 
unit of the septenary number of the Sacraments, so long 
as it did not exist, the number could not be given." 60 The 
work of synthesis remained for the speculative theologians 
of a later age. Nor was it an easy matter, because each 
Sacrament is a complete and independent unit. Thus the 
Eucharist has no intrinsic connection with Matrimony. 
Both were in use as efficacious symbols of grace from the 
very beginning. The double task of working out the 
generic definition of a Sacrament, and applying it to each 
of the seven symbols officially in use, proceeded rather 
slowly. " Sacramental practice antedates the systematic 
elaboration of a sacramentary theology. This is to be 
expected, for the latter is but a scientific statement of 
the former : lex orandi, lex credendi." 61 Sacramental 
theology was elaborated in the course of a long process 
of theological speculation, and the Church did not define 
the septenary number as an article of faith until the Prot 
estant Reformers had expressly denied it. 62 

b) A difficulty arises from the fact that St. 
Ambrose and St. Bernard apparently regarded 
the washing of feet on Holy Thursday 63 as a Sac- 

Lehre von der Eucharistie in den derten, pp. 303 sqq., Tubingen 1873. 

ersten drei Jahrhunderten, pp. 12 60 Pourrat, Theology of the Sac- 

sqq., Mainz 1824; Theo. H arnack, raments, p. 257. 

Der christliche Gemeindegottesdienst 61 Pourrat, /. c., p. 259. 

im apostolischen Zeitalter, pp. i sqq., 62 Cfr. Franzelin, De Sacram. in 

Erlangen 1854; Probst, Kirchliche Genere, thes. 19. 

Disziplin in den ersten drei Jahrhun- 63 Cfr. John XIII, 8 sqq. 


rament. That this ceremony is not a Sacrament 
cannot be convincingly demonstrated except in the 
light of ecclesiastical Tradition. The Mennonites 
recognize the lotio pedum as a true Sacrament. 
In rejecting this teaching modern Protestantism 
unwittingly employs the Catholic criterion of Tra 

a) St. Ambrose says in his De My stems, VI, 32 : 
" Mundus erat Petrus, sed plantam lavare debebat; habe- 
bat enim primi parentis de successione peccatum, quando 
eum supplantavit serpens et persuasit errorem. Ideo 
planta ems abluitur, ut hereditaria peccata tollantur; 
nostra enim propria per baptismum relaxantur" 64 Does 
this mean that the washing of feet is a Sacrament or 
dained for the forgiveness of sins, like Baptism, or do 
the phrases primi parentis peccatum and hereditaria 
peccata merely signify concupiscence (fames peccati) ? 
Evidently the latter, for St. Ambrose says in another 
passage : " Lav emus et pedes, ut calcanei lubricum [that 
is, concupiscence] possimus auferre, quo fida statio possit 
esse virtutum! 65 More light is thrown on the Saint s 
meaning by the anonymous author of the six books De 
Sacramentis, which is probably " not a later imitation 
or recension of the De Mysteriis, but the same work pub 
lished indiscreetly and in an imperfect form by some 
disciple of Ambrose." 60 We read there, III, 1,7: " Qui 
lotus est, non indiget nisi ut pedes lavet. Quare hoc? 
Quia in baptismate omnis culpa diluitur. Re c edit ergo 
culpa, sed quia Adam sup plant atus est a diabolo et vene* 

C4 Migne, P. L., XVI, 398. 66 Bardenhewer-Shahan, Patrol- 

65 In Ps., 48, n. 9 (Migne, P. L. t ogy, p. 438. 
XIV, 1159). 


num [concupiscentia] ei effusum est supra pedes, ideo 
lavas pedes, ut in ea parte, in qua insidiatus est serpens, 
mains subsidium sanctificationis accedat, quo postea te 
supplantare non possit. Lavas ergo pedes, ut laves ve- 
nenum serpentis." 67 St. Ambrose s special interest in the 
ceremony probably grew out of the custom, in vogue at 
Milan, of washing the feet of neophytes after Baptism, 
a practice unknown at Rome, as Ambrose himself tells 
us. 68 Augustine distinctly asserts that this custom was 
peculiar to the Church of Milan and that it was rejected 
and discontinued in many places where it had been 
adopted. 69 The -fact thus reliably attested, that the lotio 
pedum was merely a local and transient practice, is suf 
ficient proof that it was not a Sacrament, for a true Sac 
rament is universal both as regards time and place. 

/?) In the light of this explanation it is easy to under 
stand how St. Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153) could re 
fer to the lotio pedum as a Sacrament at a time when be 
lief in the septenary number of the Sacraments was al 
ready wide-spread. He writes : " Ut de remissione 
quotidianorum minime dubitemus, habemus eius sacra- 
mentum, pedum ablutionem. . . . Et unde scimus, quia 
ad diluenda peccata quae non sunt ad mortem [i. e. venia- 
lia] et a quibus plane cavere non possumus ante mortem, 
ablutio ista pertineatf Ex eo plane quod offerenti manus 
et caput pariter ad abluendum respon-sum est: Qui lotus 

67 De Sacram., Ill, i, 7 (Migne, tius servatur et nos rectius custodi- 
P. L,, XVI, 433). mus." 

68 De Sacram., Ill, i, 5. " EC- GO Cfr. St. Augustine, Ep. 55 ad 
clesia Romano hanc consuetudinem lanuar., n. 33: " Sed ne ad ipsum 
non habet, cuius typum in omnibus sacramentum baptismi videretur [lo- 
sequimur et formam. . . . In omni- tio pedum} pertinere, multi hoc in 
bus cupio sequi Ecclesiam Roma- consuetudine recipere noluerunt; 
nam; sed tamen et nos homines sen- nonnulli etiam de consuetudine au- 
sum habemus, ideo quod alibi rec- ferri non dubitaverunt." (Migne, 

P. L., XXXIII, 220). 


est, etc." 70 In writing thus he cannot have meant to 
designate the annual ceremony of washing the feet on 
Holy Thursday as a true Sacrament. What benefit could 
the faithful derive from a Sacrament that, having been 
instituted for the remission of " daily sins," was admin 
istered only once a year ? Clearly St. Bernard employed 
the term Sacrament in the wider sense in which it was 
still used in his day. He regarded the lotio pedum as a 
"sacramental." 71 

READINGS: Besides the current text-books on sacramental 
theology see Val. Grone, Sacramentum oder Begriff und Bedeu- 
tung von Sakrament in der alien Kirche bis zur Scholastik, Ber 
lin 1853. P. Schanz, Der Begriff des Sakramentes bei den 
Vatern, in the Theologische Quart alschrift of Tubingen, 1891. 
P. Schmalzl, Die Sakramente des Alten Testament es im all- 
gemeinen nach der Lehre des hi. Thomas, Eichstatt 1883. 

On the number of the Sacraments cfr. H ahn, Doctrinae Romae 
de Numero Sacramentorum Septenario Rationes Historicae, Bres- 
lau 1859 (Prot.), and against him, Bittner, De Numero Sacra 
mentorum Septenario, Breslau 1859. Jos. Bach, Die Siebensahl 
der Sakramente, Ratisbon 1864. 

70 Serm. in Coena Domini, n. 4 cram, in Genere, pp. 289 sqq., and 
(Migne, P. L., CLXXXIII, 271). Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische 

71 For a fuller treatment of this Theologie, Vol. IX, pp. 21 sqq. 
subject consult Franzelin, De Sa- 



The three essential constituents of a sacrament are 
(i) the visible sign, (2) invisible grace, and (3) di 
vine institution. 




As a body is composed of two constituents, the 
one indeterminate and the other determining, so, 
too, a Sacrament has two elements, matter and 
form. 1 

Thesis I: The Sacraments of the New Testament 
consist of two elements, the one indeterminate (res), 
the other determining (verbum). 

This proposition is fidei proximo,. 

Proof. For a full explanation of the concepts 
involved we must refer the student to that branch 
of philosophy called Cosmology. 2 Both res (the 
element and its application or use, technically, 
remote and proximate matter) and verbum 
(the word, in the wider sense of any sign indicat 
ing consent) are officially defined as essential con 
stituents of a Sacrament in the statement of 
doctrine drawn up by Eugene IV for the Ar 
menian delegates at the Council of Florence, 
where we read, inter alia: "Every Sacrament 
requires three constituents: things for its mat- 

i Cfr. Wilhelm-Scannell, Manual 2 See, for instance, Haan, Philoso- 

of Catholic Theology, Vol. II, pp. phia Naturalis. 
361 sq. 



ter, words for its form, and the person of the 
minister conferring the Sacrament with the in 
tention of doing what the Church does; if any 
one of these be wanting, there is no Sacrament." 3 

As Pope Eugene IV did not intend to issue a dogmatic 
definition on the subject but merely to give an account of 
the common teaching and practice of the Western 
Church,* some of the inferences drawn from his statement 
by Dominicus Soto 5 and other theologians are manifestly 
strained. We are not dealing here with an article of 
faith, so far as philosophical terminology is concerned. 
However, our thesis embodies the teaching of the Church 
and might be raised to the dignity of a dogma at any time. 

a) That a Sacrament must contain an "ele 
ment" and a "word" can be stringently proved 
from Holy Scripture only for the Sacrament of 
Baptism. Eph. V, 26 : "By the laver of water 
in the word of life." 6 

In regard to Confirmation, 7 the Holy Eucharist, 8 and 
Extreme Unction, 9 this is merely intimated. But Tradi 
tion abundantly supplies what is lacking in Biblical teach 
ing. The Fathers insist that both a res and a verbum 

3 Decretum pro Armenis: " Om- 5 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. i, 
nia sacramenta tribus perficiuntur, qu. i, art. 6: " Fidei est catholi- 
vid. rebus tamquam materia, verbis cae, sacramenta constare rebus et 
tamquam forma, et persona ministri verbis, quod sine manifesto hae- 
conferentis sacramentum cum in- resi negari non potest." 

tentione faciendi, quod facit EC- 6 Eph. V, 26: " Lav aero aquae in 

clesia; quorum si aliquid desit, non verbo vitae." 
perficitur sacramentum." (Denzin- 7 Acts VIII, 15 sqq. 

ger-Bannwart, n. 695). 8 Matth. XXVI, 26. 

4 Franzelin, De Traditione, p. James V, 14. 


enter into the constitution of a Sacrament. St. Au 
gustine says : " Take away the word, and what is water 
but water ? The word is added to the element, and there 
is a Sacrament." 10 This teaching has been preserved and 
handed down by the churches separated from Rome n 
and is confirmed by the authority of the Scholastics. 12 

b) As regards the Sacraments of the Old Testament 
(circumcision, the eating of the paschal lamb, certain 
lustrations, etc.), theologians hold that they did not 
consist of res et verbum but merely of res et actio, because 
of St. Paul s reference to the Old Law as " having a 
shadow of the good things to come, [but] not the very im 
age of the things." 13 The occasional employment of 
words in connection with these rites was either unessen 
tial or of purely human institution. St. Thomas 14 gives 
three reasons why it is fit that the Sacraments of the New 
Testament should be superior to those of the Old, not only 
in interior effect but also with regard to the external rite . 
( i ) The analogy between the Sacraments and the Incar 
nation. In the Sacraments, " the word is joined to the 
sensible sign, just as in the mystery of the Incarnation 
God is united to sensible flesh." (2) The conformity of 
the Sacraments to their human recipients, who are com 
posed of soul and body. (3) The superior power of 
signification peculiar to a definite word over indefinite 

10 Tract, in loa,, 80, n. 3: "Ex verbis et rebus fit quo dam- 
" Detrahe verbum et quid est aqua modo unum in sacramentis sicut for- 
nisi aqua? Accedit verbum ad ele- ma et materia, inquantum scilicet 
inentum et fit sacramentum." per verba perficitur significatio 

11 Cfr. Schelstrate, Act a Orient. rerum." 

Ecclesiae, Vol. I, p. 505, Rome 1739; 13 Heb. X, i: " Umbram fu- 

Denzinger, Ritus Orientalium, 2 turorum bonorum, non ipsam ima- 

vols., Wiirzburg 1863-64; Gass, ginem rerum." 

Symbolik der griechischen Kirche, i* Summa TlieoL, 33, qu. 60, art. 

p. 233, Berlin 1872. 6. Cfr. Gihr, Die hi. Sakramente 

12 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa Thco- der kath. Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd ed., 
logica, 33, qu. 60, art. 6, ad 2: pp. 50 sqq., Freiburg 1902. 


symbolical acts, such as those employed under the Old 

Thesis II : The "sensible element" in a Sacrament 
corresponds, in philosophical parlance, to "matter," the 
"word" to "form," and the two are related to each other 
as materia and forma in the Scholastic sense of these 

This proposition may be technically qualified as 

Proof. The use of the terms "matter" and 
"form" in the theology of the Sacraments can be 
traced to William of Auxerre (d. I223). 15 It was 
adopted by the Church 16 and received official 
sanction at the Council of Trent. 17 To reject 
it, therefore, would be foolhardy. 

a) The application to the theology of the Sac 
raments of the famous Aristotelian distinction be 
tween matter and form, is most appropriate and 

As matter and form coalesce into one whole, which is 
separate and distinct from each of its component parts, so 
res and verbum constitute one complete sign, which is 
neither a mere element nor a mere word. 

Again, as matter, being undetermined, is generically de- 

15 Several of the Fathers (e. g. ut supra, p. 60, n. 3; the. Bull "Inter 
St. Augustine, De Peccatorum cunctas " of Martin V (quoted in 
Mentis et Remissione, I, 34) speak Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 672). 

of a forma in connection with the 17 Cone. Trident., Sess. XVI, cap. 

Sacraments; however, they mean by 2 and " De Extrema Unctione," 

it not the mere words of administra- Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 895 and 

tion, but the entire external rite. 908. 

16 Cfr. the Decretum pro Armenia, 


termined by the form, so is the res raised to the rank of 
a sacramental sign by the differentiating power of the 

Furthermore, as matter and form intrinsically supple 
ment and perfect each other, so, too, do res and verbum. 
However, since res and verbum do not represent a physi 
cal but merely a moral totum (i. e. one depending on the 
free choice of Christ), the terms must be taken analogi 
cally. The union of res and verbum in a Sacrament is not, 
therefore, a physical but a purely moral synthesis, which 
does not demand that the component parts co-exist. Thus 
a penitent who confesses his sins may be validly absolved 
a day later, because the " element " or act of confession, 
and the " word " which determines it, despite the inter 
val between them, constitute one moral act. The place 
of the " word " which is to determine the " thing " cannot 
be taken by some symbolic act, as, e. g., washing a person 
with water instead of pronouncing the formula of Bap 
tism. There are many ablutions with diverse symbolic 
meanings, and the action remains indeterminate so long as 
there is no forma in the shape of a determining word. 

In some Sacraments, notably Penance and Matrimony, 
it is not easy to say precisely wherein matter and 
form consist, but this difficulty has not deterred theolo 
gians from insisting that somewhere and somehow both 
must be present. 

An exception is made by the Scotists and Vasquez in 
favor of the Holy Eucharist, which they regard as a 
" permanent Sacrament " and the only one not consti 
tuted by a union of matter and form. But this theory is 
untenable in view of the Decretum pro Armenis, quoted 
above. Moreover, the Holy Eucharist demonstrably has 
both res and verbum, matter and form. 18 

isCfr. Tepe, Instit. TheoL, Vol. IV, pp. 15 sqq., Paris 1896. 


b) If "element" and "word" are related to 
each other as matter and form, it follows that 
every Sacrament must consist of matter and 

Scotus and his followers admit that all the Sacraments, 
including the Eucharist, Penance, and Matrimony, grow 
out of an " element " and a " word," but they deny that 
each is essentially composed of res and verbum as matter 
and form. And yet the latter proposition follows logic 
ally from the former. That which originates from a 
union of matter and form, must necessarily consist of 
matter and form. Now, the Decretum pro Armenis says : 
" Omnia sacramenta perficiuntur rebus tamquam ma- 
teria, verbis tamquam forma," which is virtually the 
same as the teaching of the Roman Catechism that 
matter and form " are parts pertaining to the na 
ture and substance of the Sacraments, and by which 
each Sacrament is necessarily constituted." 19 Hence 
we maintain with St. Thomas that, since a Sacrament 
is divisible into matter and form as distinct parts of its es 
sence, every Sacrament consists of an element and a 
word. 20 

Cardinal Lugo holds 21 that, as the Decretum pro Ar 
menis mentions the intention of the minister, this enters 
into the intrinsic constitution of a Sacrament quite as 
much as matter and form. But the opinion is untenable. 
A Sacrament is constituted by matter and form; the 

19 P. II, cap. i, n. 15: " Haec 2: " Quodlibet sacr amentum di- 
igitur [scil. materia et forma"] sunt stinguitur in materiam et formam 
paries, quae ad naturam et substan- sicut in partes essentiae. Unde 
tiam sacramentorum pertinent et ex supra dictum est, quod sacramenta 
quibus unumquodque sacramentum consistunt in rebus et verbis." 
necessario constituitur." 21 De Sacrament., disp. 2, sect. 

20 Summa Theol., 33, qu. 90, art. 5. 


intentio ministri is merely a condition of valid adminis 
tration. 22 

22 On the materia and forma of cramentis Ecclesiae, Vol. I, sect. 3, 

the Sacraments the student may Freiburg 1897; Heinrich-Gutberlet, 

consult Franzelin, De Sacramentis Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. IX, 

in Genere, thes. 4; Sasse, De Sa- 482. 



In this Section we have to consider, not the 
efficacy of the Sacraments, nor the manner in 
which they produce their effects (modus effici- 
endi), 1 but these effects themselves. 

The Catholic Church teaches : ( i ) that through 
the Sacraments "all true justice either begins, or, 
when already begun, is increased, or having been 
lost, is repaired;" 2 (2) that three Sacraments, 
viz.: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, 
imprint an indelible mark upon the soul. 



All the Sacraments confer sanctifying grace, but, in 
addition, each one confers a special grace peculiar to its 
object. This is commonly called gratia sacramentalis. 
The amount of sanctifying and special grace bestowed by 
a Sacrament depends chiefly on the disposition of the 

We shall demonstrate these statements in three distinct 

1 V. infra, Ch. Ill, pp. 121 sqq. vera iustitia vel incipit vel coepta 

2 Concilium Trident., Sess. VII, augetur vel amissa reparatur." 
Prooem.: " Per sacramenta omnis 



Thesis I: All the Sacraments confer sanctifying 

This proposition embodies an. article of faith. 

Proof. The Tridentine Council defines : "If 
anyone saith that grace, as far as God s part is 
concerned, is not given through the said Sacra 
ments always and to all men, even though they 
receive them rightly, but [only] sometimes and 
to some persons, let him be anathema." 3 Hence 
all the Sacraments without exception infallibly 
confer sanctifying grace when they are worth 
ily received. 

a) This teaching can be demonstrated from 
Scripture and Tradition. Both the Bible and 
the Fathers designate "regeneration of God" as 
the principal effect of Baptism. "Regeneration" 
is identical with justification, 4 which is produced 
by the infusion of sanctifying grace. Conse 
quently, Baptism confers sanctifying grace. 
What is true of Baptism, must also be true of 
the other Sacraments, since they are essentially 
rites of the same nature. 5 Besides grace, the Sac 
raments impart the three divine virtues of faith, 
hope, and charity, the infused moral virtues, and 
the other concomitants of sanctifying grace. 6 

3 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bann- 

7: "Si quis dixerit, non dari wart, n. 850). 

gratiam per huiusmodi sacramenta 4 See Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual 

semper et omnibus, quantum est and Habitual, pp. 314 sq. 

ex parte Dei, etiamsi rite ea su- 5 V. supra, Ch. I, Sect. 2. 

scipiant, sed aliquando et aliquibus, 6 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, op. cit., pp. 

362 sqq. 


The well-known division into Sacraments of 
the living and Sacraments of the dead is based on 
the distinction between first and second justifica 
tion, with which we have dealt in our treatise on 
Grace. 7 

The Sacraments of the living are : Confirma 
tion, the Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Holy 
Orders, and Matrimony. The Sacraments of the 
dead: Baptism and Penance. For further in 
formation we must refer the reader to the spe 
cial treatises following this introduction. 

b) Although the Sacraments of the living can 
be worthily received only in the state of grace, 
theologians have raised the question whether, and 
under what conditions, these Sacraments may 
confer the iustificatio prima, and thereby, at least 
indirectly (per accident), produce the same effects 
as the Sacraments of the dead. 

It is certain that the Sacraments of the dead, when 
conferred on a person already justified by an act of per 
fect contrition, increase sanctifying grace and conse 
quently effect the iustificatio secunda. Similarly, it 
is probable that the Sacraments of the living, under cer 
tain conditions, restore sanctifying grace, and conse 
quently effect the iustificatio prima. St. Bonaventure 
and De Lugo deny this proposition, so far as the Holy 
Eucharist is concerned. But ranged against them are such 
eminent older theologians as Suarez, Viva, St. Thomas 8 

7 Op. at., pp. 388 sqq. 

8 Summa Theol., 3a, qu. 72, art. 7, ad 2. 


and his entire school, and nearly all modern authors. 
The controversy cannot be decided from Tradition, but 
there is a strong theological argument in favor of the 
Thomistic view. The Tridentine Council teaches : " If 
anyone saith that the Sacraments of the New Law . . . 
do not confer grace on those who do not place an 
obstacle thereunto, ... let him be anathema." 9 Now 
it may easily happen that a sinner, believing himself to 
be in the state of grace, receives a Sacrament of the liv 
ing with only imperfect contrition. Are we to assume 
that in such a case the Sacrament is utterly ineffective? 
There is no obstacle placed in the way of grace, since 
the sinner is in good faith and truly sorry for his sins. 
Hence, if the Sacrament has any effect at all, it must be 
to establish the state of grace. This can be easily 
shown of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. St. 
Thomas expressly asserts it of the Sacrament of Con 
firmation. 10 It is equally true of Holy Orders and Matri 
mony, where good faith and attrition conjointly preclude 
the possibility of sacrilege and remove the obex. Is the 
Eucharist alone to form an exception, as De Lugo icon- 
tends ? St. Thomas emphatically denies it. " This Sac 
rament," he says, " can effect the forgiveness of sin in 
two ways. First of all, by being received, not actually, 
but in desire . . . ; secondly, when received by one in 
mortal sin of which he is not conscious, and for which 
he has no attachment; for possibly he was not suffi 
ciently contrite at first, but by approaching this Sacrament 

9 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. in peccato existens, cuius conscien- 
6: " Si quis dixerit, sacramenta tiam non habet, vel si etiam non 
Novae Legis . . . gratiam ipsam non perfecte contritus [. e. attritus] 
ponentibus obiccm non conferre, accedat, dummodo non fictus acce- 
anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bann- dot, per gratiam collatam in hoc 
wart, n. 849). sacramento consequetur remissionem 

10 Summa Theol., 3a, qu. 72, peccatorum." 
art. 7, ad 2: "Si aliquis adultus 


devoutly and reverently, he obtains the grace of charity, 
which will perfect his [imperfect] contrition, and bring 
forgiveness of sin." n 

Thesis II: Besides sanctifying grace, the Sacra 
ments confer each a special, the so-called sacramental 

This proposition may be qualified technically as 
sententia communis. 

Proof, a) The existence of a special sacra 
mental grace can be shown in three ways. 

) If the Sacraments produced no other effect 
than sanctifying grace, there would be no need of 
having seven of them. Yet the Church teaches 
that all seven are necessary unto salvation, though 
not for every individual. "If anyone saith that 
the Sacraments of the New Law are not neces 
sary unto salvation, but superfluous, . . . though 
all are not indeed necessary for every individual, 
let him be anathema/ 12 

) If the Sacraments really "contain," i. e. 
effect, the grace which they "signify," as the 

11 Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 79, art. missionem peccati." Cfr. De Au- 

3 : " Potest hoc sacramentum gustinis, De Re Sacrament aria, Vol. 

operari remissionem peccati duplici- I, 2nd ed., pp. 275 sqq. ; Heinrich- 

ter: uno modo non perceptum actu, Gutberlet, Dogmatische Theologie, 

sed voto . . .; alio modo etiam per- Vol. IV, 493. 

ceptum ab eo, qui est in peccato 12 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. 

mortali, cuius conscientiarn et 4: "Si quis dixerit, sacramenta 

affectum non habet. Forte enim Novae Legis non esse ad salutem 

primo non fuit sufficienter contritus, necessaria, sed superflua, . . . licet 

sed devote et r ever enter accedens omnia svngulis necessaria non sint, 

consequetur per hoc sacramentum anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bann- 

gratiam caritatis, quae contritionem wart, n. 847). 
[scil. imperfectam] perfidet, et re- 


Council of Trent declares, 13 the different signs 
must effect different graces, there must be as 
many different graces as there are signs, and 
hence the grace of Baptism cannot be identical 
with the grace of Confirmation, 14 and so 

y) The Church teaches that the Sacraments 
differ in dignity and worth. "If anyone saith," 
defines the same Council, "that these seven Sac 
raments are in such wise equal to each other as 
that one is not in any way worthier than 
another, let him be anathema." 15 It would be 
difficult to conceive this inequality, if there were 
no difference in effect. 16 

b) Regarding the exact nature of the sacra 
mental grace theologians are at variance. 

The majority hold that the sanctifying grace conferred 
by a Sacrament is of the same order and quality as that 
obtained by prayer, merit, and perfect charity. Aureolus, 
Paludanus, Eusebius Amort, and others have tried to ex 
plain the difference in the effects of the various Sacra 
ments by assuming the existence of habits specifically dis 
tinct from sanctifying grace and its accompanying virtues. 
However, this assumption is gratuitous, ( i ) because sanc 
tifying grace with its concomitant theological virtues pro 
vides sufficiently for the habitual life of the soul, and (2) 

13 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, nulla ratione aliud sit alio dignius, 
can. 6. ". . . continent gratiam, anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bann- 
quam significant." wart, n. 846). 

14 Cfr. Acts VIII, 16 sqq. 16 For a more detailed treatment 

15 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. of this point cfr. Pesch, Praelect. 
3: " Si quis dixerit, haec septem Dogmaticae, Vol. VI, 3rd ed., pp. 
sacramenta esse inter se paria, ut 54 sqq. 


because there is no basis for any such assertion in Revela 

How, then, are we to conceive the graces peculiar to 
the different Sacraments ? 

Billuart 17 and other Thomist theologians contend that 
sacramental grace consists in some mode of perfection 
which ordinary grace lacks. Suarez 18 thinks sacramental 
grace is a claim to those actual graces which correspond 
to the particular object of a Sacrament. In both hy 
potheses sanctifying grace is the font and well-spring of 
the gratia sacramentalis. The same grace (justification) 
is conferred by all the Sacraments, but it exercises a dif 
ferent function in each. In Baptism it effects regenera 
tion, in Confirmation it confers spiritual manhood, in the 
Holy Eucharist it nourishes the soul, and so forth. 19 

The majority of modern theologians prefer to hold 
with Suarez that the gratia sacramentalis is simply a 
moral claim to actual graces, which are not conferred all 
at once, but one by one, as they are needed, though al 
ways with reference to the Sacrament of which they are 
the effects. However, there is nothing to prevent us from 
meeting Billuart halfway by defining sacramental grace 
as a permanent disposition or habit. 20 

17 De Sacramentis, diss. 3, art. 5. St. Thomas; cfr. Summa TheoL, 33, 

18 De Sacramentis, disp. 7, sect. qu. 62, art. 2: " Sicut igitur vir- 
3. tutes et dona addunt super gratiam 

19 Decret. pro Armenis, in Den- communiter dictam quondam per- 
zinger-Bannwart, n, 695. Cfr. St. fectionem determinate ordinatam ad 
Bonaventure, Comment, in Sent., proprios actus potentiarum [scil. 
IV, dist. i, p. i, qu. 6: " Gratia an\mae\, ita gratia sacramentalis 
sacramentalis est eadem per essen- addit super gratiam communiter 
tiam cum gratia virtutum [i. e. sane- dictam [i. e. habitualem] et super 
tificante], licet gratia sacramentalis virtutes et dona quoddam divinum 
plures connotet effectus." auxilium ad consequendum sacra- 

20 Cfr. Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dog- menti finem." See also De Augu- 
mat. TheoL, Vol. IV, pp. 151 sqq.; stinis, De Re Sacrament aria, Vol. I, 
Gihr, Die hi. Sakramente der kath. 2nd ed., pp. 278 sqq., and De Lugo, 
Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 93 sqq. De Sacramentis, disp. 4, sect. 3. 
This teaching is based on that of 


Thesis III: The amount of grace conferred by a 
Sacrament depends on the disposition of the re 

This thesis is also sententia communis. 

Proof. The Tridentine Council, speaking of 
the justification of adult sinners, teaches: 
". . . and we are . . . just, receiving justice 
within us, each one according to his own measure, 
which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one 
as He wills, and according to each one s proper 
disposition and co-operation/ 


That is to say, the amount of grace conferred by a 
Sacrament in each instance depends (i) on the eternal 
decree of God, who has endowed each Sacrament with a 
definite measure of grace, and (2) on the disposition 
and co-operation of the recipient. Note, however, that 
the Sacraments are efficacious ex opere operate, and con 
sequently the disposition of the recipient is not the cause 
of grace, but merely a condition of a richer outpouring of 
the same, just as the dryness of a stick of wood is not the 
cause of its burning, but a condition of its being more 
rapidly consumed by the flames. 22 

a) The Tridentine teaching is in perfect con 
formity with the mind of the Fathers. 

St. Cyril admonishes his catechumens about to receive 
Baptism : " Cleanse thine vessel, that it may receive a 

21 Cone. Trident., Sess. VI, cap. cundum propriam cuiusque dispositi- 

7: "... iustitiam in nobis recipi- onem et cooperationem." (Den- 

entes, unusquisque suant secundum zinger-Bannwart, n. 799). 

mensuram, quam Spiritus Sanctus 22 Cfr. Franzelin, DC Sacramentis 

partitur singulis prout vult, et se- in Genere, thes. 6. 


greater measure of grace. Forgiveness of sins is granted 
to all alike, but the communication of the Holy Ghost is 
given to each according to the measure of his faith. If 
thine effort be but slight, thou wilt receive little; but if 
thou dost much, thine reward will be great." 23 It is for 
this same reason that the Church constantly exhorts the 
faithful to serve God more ardently, in order that they 
may receive a richer reward. St. Thomas voices the 
conviction of the Schoolmen when he says : " All chil 
dren are equally disposed to Baptism, ... all receive an 
equal effect in Baptism; whereas adults . . . are not 
equally disposed; for some approach with greater, some 
with less, devotion, and therefore some receive a greater, 
some a smaller share of the grace of renewal." 24 

b) Revelation does not tell us whether or not 
Sacraments of a different order (e. g. Baptism 
and the Holy Eucharist), all other things being 
equal, confer an equal amount of grace. 

Objectively the Holy Eucharist is the most perfect of 
the Sacraments, and consequently we may assume that 
from the nature of the case and regardless of the disposi 
tion of the recipient, it confers a larger share of grace 
than the others. Those theologians who, in addition to the 
disposition and co-operation of the recipient mentioned by 
the Tridentine Council, postulate other external condi- 

23 Catech., I, cap. 5 (Migne, qualiter se habent ad baptismum. 
P. G., XXXIII, 378). Other Pa- Quidam enim cum maiore, quidam 
tristic texts in Suarez, De Sacram., cum minore devotionc ad baptismum 
disp. 7, sect. 5. accedunt, et idea quidam plus, qui- 

24 Summa Theol, 33, qu. 69, art. dam minus de gratia novitatis ac- 
8: "... omnes pueri aequaliter cipiunt." Cfr. De Augustinis, De 
se habent ad baptismum, . . . omnes Re Sacrament., Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 
aequalem effectum percipiunt in bap- 294 sqq. ; Tepe, Inst. Theolog., Vol. 
tismo. Adulti vero . . . non ae- IV, pp. 50 sqq. 


tions, merely voice their private opinion and speak with 
out sufficient warrant. Paludanus 25 engages in guess 
work when he says that the amount of grace conferred by 
Baptism is unequal even in infants, because the number of 
human beings to be saved and the degree of happiness to 
be enjoyed by each in Heaven must correspond to the num 
ber and beatitude of the Angels. Scotus 26 and Gabriel 
Biel hold that God increases the amount of grace con 
ferred by the Sacraments in some cases according to His 
absolute decree of predestination, or by reason of a spe 
cial application of the merits of Jesus Christ, or in con 
sideration of the personal worthiness of the minister of 
the Sacrament and those who happen to be present during 
its administration. Such greater lavishness on the part of 
God in regard to certain persons is, of course, possible, 
but there is nothing to show that it actually exists, 
and if it did, it would most assuredly be a special privilege 
outside the lex or dinar ia. 21 Cardinal Cajetan thinks that 
the amount of grace conferred by a Sacrament may be 
increased by personal sanctity and prayer on the part of 
the minister. 28 No doubt it makes a difference who ad 
ministers a Sacrament, whether he be a pious priest or one 
imbued with a worldly spirit. A saintly minister by his 
prayers, merits, and spiritual influence may procure many 
actual graces for the recipient, thus disposing him better 
personally and making him more receptive. But there 
is no warrant for asserting that the amount of sanctifying 
grace conferred by a Sacrament depends on the worthiness 
of the minister. 

25 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 4, borated by De Lugo, De Sacra- 
Q U - i. mentis, disp. 9, sect. 2. 

26 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 4, 28 Comment, in S. Theol, III, 
QU. 7- qu. 64, art. i. 

27 This point is more fully ela- 



Character * in general signifies any mark or trait that 
distinguishes one person or object from others. In Cath 
olic theology the term is used to designate certain indelible 
spiritual marks imprinted on the soul by the Sacraments 
of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. 

CHARACTER. That there is such a thing as the 
sacramental character follows from the dogmat 
ically denned truth that the Sacraments of Bap 
tism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders each im 
press a special, supernatural, and ineffaceable 
mark upon the soul of the recipient. 

Wiclif claimed that this teaching cannot be 
substantiated from Revelation. 2 The Protestant 
Reformers denied the existence of the sacramental 
character. Chemnitz asserted that the "char 
acter" had been invented by Pope Innocent III (d. 

The dogmatic teaching of the Church on this 
point is beyond cavil. The Council of Florence 
(A. D. 1439) declared: "Among these Sacra 
ments there are three, i. e. Baptism, Confirma 
tion, and Holy Orders, that indelibly imprint 
upon the soul a character, i. e. a kind of spiritual 

i Signum, figura, xapa.KT fip. * Trial., IV, 15. 


mark, distinct from all others, and this is the 
reason why they are administered but once 
to the same person. The other four do not 
imprint a character and can be administered more 
than once/ 3 This definition was solemnly re 
iterated by the Council of Trent: "If anyone 
saith that in the three Sacraments of Baptism, 
Confirmation, and Holy Orders, there is not im 
printed on the soul a character, that is, a certain 
spiritual and indelible sign, on account of which 
they cannot be repeated, let him be anathema/ 4 
Hence it is of faith that there is a sacramental 
character, and that because of this character the 
three Sacraments in question cannot be repeated, 
a) Though this teaching is not directly de 
monstrable from Holy Scripture, it enables us to 
interpret satisfactorily certain passages in the 
Epistles of St. Paul which would otherwise re 
main obscure. 

Thus, the Apostle says that God " hath sealed us, and 
given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts." 5 And 

3 Decretum pro Armenis : "Inter sacramentis, baptismo soil., confirma- 
hacc sacramenta tria sunt : bap- tione et ordine, non imprimi cha- 
tismus, confirmatio et ordo, quae racterem in anima, hoc est signum 
character em, i. e. spirituals quod- quoddam spirituale et indclebile, 
dam signum a caeteris distinctivum, unde ea iterari non possunt, ana- 
imprimunt in anima indelebile, unde thema sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, 
in eadem persona non reiterantur; n. 852). 

reliqua vero quattuor characterem 62 Cor. I, 21 sq. : ". . . qui 

non imprimunt et reiterationem ad- unxit nos Deus: qui et signavit 

mittunt." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. nos (6 Kal fffppayiffdfjievos fj/j.a.^) ct 

695). dedit pignus Spiritus in cordibus 

4 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. nostris." 
9 : " Si quis dixerit, in tribus 


again : " In whom [i. e. Christ] . . . believing, you 
were signed with the holy Spirit of promise." 6 And 
again : " Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby 
you are sealed unto the day of redemption." 7 St. Paul 
here tells his hearers: (i) You are anointed, (2) you 
are sealed or signed, and (3) you have received the 
pledge of the Spirit. " You are anointed " is manifestly 
but another way of saying: You are justified (gratia 
creata). "You have received the pledge of the Holy 
Spirit" means: The Holy Spirit has descended upon 
you and dwells in you (gratia increata). That the sig- 
natio implied by the phrase " who hath sealed us " must 
refer to the Sacraments, appears (a) from the general 
economy of divine grace, in which internal grace is ordi 
narily communicated through the instrumentality of ex 
ternal signs, and (b) from the expression " unxit nos," 
which seems to imply an internal as well as an external 
unction; just as " ablutio " in the writings of St. Paul im 
plies both external and internal washing. 8 This also ex 
plains what the Apostle means when he says that to grieve 
the Spirit of God is to break the " seal of the Spirit," by 
which we are sealed unto redemption. 

Sacred Scripture indicates quite unmistakably that Bap 
tism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders can be received but 
once. 9 

Some theologians hold that the " pignus Spiritus " does 
not refer to the sacramental character, but to the " signum 
fidei " 10 or to the charisma. 11 But it is a noteworthy fact 

6 Eph. I, 13: ". . . in quo [soil. 8 Cfr. i Cor. VI, n; Hebr. X, 22. 
Christo] et credentes signati estis 9 For Baptism, cfr. Rom. VI, 10, 
(e<r0pa7i <7077re) Spiritu promissionis Eph. IV, 5, Heb. VI, 4 sq. ; for 
Sancto." Confirmation, Acts XIX, i sqq.; 

7 Eph. IV, 30: " Nolite contri- for Holy Orders, 2 Tim. I, 6. 
stare Spiritum Sanctum Dei, in quo 10 St. Thomas Aquinas. 
signati estis (eff^payiffd^re) in n Estius, Comely. 

diem redemptionis." 


that the Church bases her traditional teaching of the char 
acter precisely on the Pauline passages which we have 
quoted. It is from them that the Greeks drew their theory 
of the baptismal " sphragis," which was all but universally 
received in the second century. 12 

b) A convincing argument for the existence of 
the "character sacramentalis" can be derived 
from Tradition. St. Augustine defended it as 
an essential part of the sacramental system of 
the Church. 

In his Letter to Boniface 13 he refers to the mark im 
printed by Baptism as " character dominicus," i. e. a 
mark belonging to Christ, the Chief Shepherd of the 
flock and Leader of the Christian army. 14 In his treatise 
on Baptism against the Donatists he says : " Men put 
on Christ, sometimes so far as to receive the Sacrament, 
sometimes so much further as to receive holiness of life. 
And the first of these may be common to good and bad 
alike, but the second is peculiar to the good and pious." 
And again : " But which is worse, not to be baptized at 
all, or to be twice baptized, it is difficult to decide." 15 
Elsewhere St. Augustine compares the baptismal char- 

12 Cfr. Pourrat, La Theologie Sa- 14 Cfr. Pourrat, Sacramental The- 
cramentaire, pp. 196 sqq.; Eng- ology, p. 229. 

lish tr., pp. 217 sqq. 15 De Baptismo contra Donati- 

13 Ep., 98, n. 5: " Christianis stas, V, 24, 34: " Induunt homines 
baptismi sacramentttm . . . etiam Christum aliquando usque ad sa- 
apud haereticos valet et suf- cramenti perceptionem, aliquando et 
ficit ad consecrationem, quamvis ad usque ad vitae sanctificationetn. 
vitae aeternae participationem non Atque illud primum et bonis et 
sufficiat ; quae consecratio reum malis potest esse commune, hoc au- 
quidem facit haereticum extra tcm alterum proprium est bonorum 
Domini gregem habentem Domini- et piorum." Op. cit., II, 14, 19: 
cum characterem, corrigendum " Quid sit autem perniciosius, utrum 
tamen admonet sana doctrina, non omnino non baptizari an rebaptisari, 
iterum similiter consecrandum." iudicare difficile est." 


acter to the badge of a soldier and says that the same 
simile may be applied to Confirmation and Holy Orders. 18 
Thus, contrary to Harnack s claim, 17 St. Augustine s 
theory of the sacramental character is not an artificial 
makeshift framed for the sake of expediency, but, in 
the words of Pourrat, 18 " a living development of the sac 
ramental principles laid down by the practice of the early 
Church, a development quite homogeneous with its start 
ing-point." 19 

St. Ambrose teaches : " Therefore we are sealed with 
the Holy Spirit, not by nature, but by God, because it is 
written : God hath anointed us and hath also sealed us. 
We are sealed with the Spirit, in order that we may 
possess His splendor and image and grace, which is in 
deed a spiritual seal." 20 

St. Chrysostom says : " Thus it happens that if you 
leave the ranks [as a deserter], you can be easily recog 
nized by all ; for the Jews employ circumcision as a sign ; 
we, the pledge of the Spirit." 21 

St. Cyril of Jerusalem declares that the angels can tell 

16 Contra Ep, Parmen., II, 13, ideoque in catholica ecclesia utrum- 

29: "An forte minus haerent sa- que non licet iterari." 

cramenta Christiana quam corporalis IT Dogmengeschichte, Vol. Ill, 

haec nota [i. e. militum], quum 3rd ed., pp. 140 sqq., Freiburg 

videamus nee apostatas carer e bap- 1896. 

tismate, quibus utique per poeni- 18 Op. cit., p. 231. 

tentiam redeuntibus non restituitur 19 Cfr. Pourrat, op. cit., pp. 226 

et ideo amitti non posse iudica- sqq. 

tur."Cir. Contra Lit. Petil, II, 20 De Spiritu Sancto, I, 6, 79 

104, 239: "Quod [sacramentum "Sancto igitur Spiritu signati 

chrismatis ] in genere visibilium si- sumus non natura, sed a Deo, quia 

gnaculorum sacrosanctum est, sicut scriptum est : Quia unxit nos 

et ipse baptismus; sed potest esse Deus et qui signavit nos. Spiritu 

et in hominibus pessimis." Contra signamur, ut splendorem atque ima- 

Ep. Parmen., II, 13, 28: " Utrum- ginem eius et gratiam tenere possi- 

que [soil, baptismus et ordo~\ sacra- mus, quod est utique spirituals 

mentum est et quadam consecratione signaculum." 

utrumque homini datur, illud quum 21 Horn, in 2 Cor., 3, n. 7. 
baptisatur, illud quum ordinatur; 


a Christian by the sacramental character imprinted on 
his soul. " In battle," he writes, " the leaders distribute 
badges to the combatants, by which friends can recognize 
and help one another. . . . How is the Angel to recognize 
thee ? How is he to rescue thee from thine enemies, if he 
does not see thy badge ? How canst thou say : I belong 
to God, if thou dost not wear His sign and badge ? " 22 

St. Ephraem Syrus writes : " The Holy Ghost im 
prints His sign upon His sheep with oil. As a sealing- 
ring imprints an image on wax, so the secret sign of the 
Holy Spirit is imprinted by means of oil on a person when 
he is anointed in Baptism." 23 

c) For a better understanding of the sacra 
mental character it will be well to study the ques 
tion of its duration and the Scholastic distinction 
between sacramentum and res. 

a) Does the sacramental character endure in the life 
beyond ? The Tridentine Council has defined that it out 
lasts mortal sin, i. e. the loss of sanctifying grace, whence 
we must conclude that it lasts at least till death. Theo 
logians regard it as certain that the sacramental character 
survives after death, especially in the souls of the 
elect. St. Cyril speaks of " a sign indelible for eter 
nity," 25 and St. Thomas teaches : " The [sacramen 
tal] character remains after this life, both in the good 
as adding to their glory, and in the wicked as increasing 
their shame, just as the character of the military service 
remains in the soldiers after the victory, as the boast of 
the conquerors and the disgrace of the conquered." 26 

22 Procatech., n. 4. 25 Procatech., n. 17: atypayis 

23 Assemani, Biblioth. Orient., I, di/efaXeiTrros e/s rois alwvas. 

95. 26 Summa Theol., 33., qu. 63, art. 

24 Pastor Hennae, Sim. VIII, 6. 5, ad 3: "Post hanc vitam re- 


The intrinsic reason for this indelibility is that there 
exists no contrary quality or entity which can destroy the 
sacramental character. God alone is able to destroy 
it by direct interposition; but God destroys no positive 
entity except when compelled by a moral motive, as when 
grace is destroyed by mortal sin. There is no such 
motive imaginable in regard to the sacramental character, 
for it can co-exist with mortal sin, and serves two further 
good purposes, to enhance the glory of God and the 
reward of the elect in Heaven, and to shame the repro 
bate sinners and make their punishment more severe 
in hell. 27 

ft) The Scholastic distinction between sacramentum 
and res arose in the twelfth century and is based on 
the fact that the sacramental character is a sign, 
like " matter and form," though invisible, while the latter 
are visible. The Schoolmen distinguish between " sacra 
mentum tantum/ i. e. the external sign consisting of mat 
ter and form; "res tantum" i. e. the internal grace 
effected by that sign ; 28 and " res <s^m^ll et sacramentum," 
i. e. the character, which is both the result of a sign and 
itself the sign of something else. In other words: In 
every sacrament that imprints an indelible mark on the 
soul, there is ( i ) something which merely signifies but is 
not itself signified (id quod significat et non significatur}, 
i. e. matter and form (sacramentum tantum) ; (2) some 
thing which is merely signified but does not itself signify 
anything (id quod significatur et non significat), i. e. in 
ternal grace (res tantum) ; (3) something which is both 
signified and itself signifies (id quod significatur et signi- 

tnanet character et in bonis ad vicerunt ad gloriam et in his qui 
eorum gloriam et in malis ad eorum sunt victi in poenam." 
ignominiam, sicut etiam militaris 27 Cfr. Billuart, De Sacram., diss. 

character tnanet in militibus post 4, art. 2. 

adeptam victoriam et in his qui 28 V. supra, pp. 59 sqq. and pp. 66 



ficat), i. e. the sacramental character (res simul et sa 
cramentum). Considered as an effect of external grace 
the sacramental character, like sanctifying grace, is both 
signified and effected; considered as a spiritual mark, it 
merely signifies, but does not effect, the presence of sanc 
tifying grace. Naturally (per se) the baptismal char 
acter postulates the grace of Baptism, the character of 
Confirmation postulates the grace conferred by that par 
ticular Sacrament, and the sacerdotal character imprinted 
by Holy Orders postulates the grace bestowed by ordina 
tion. Without sanctifying grace the sacramental char 
acter would be incomplete, crying by its very existence and 
purpose for the spiritual life. 29 

By way of analogy theologians have applied this dis 
tinction to the other sacraments, which do not confer a 
character, trying to find in them something which could 
take the part of res simul et sacramentum. This was 
easy enough in the Holy Eucharist. For in this Sacra 
ment the external species may be regarded as sacramentum 
tantum in so far as they merely signify without them 
selves being signified, while the grace (produced by com 
munion) is merely an effect but no sign, and hence there 
was no difficulty in designating the body of Our Lord, 
which both signifies (and effects) the internal grace, and 
is also signified by the species, as res simul et sacramen 
tum. In the Sacrament of Matrimony the marriage bond 
may be called res simul et sacramentum, inasmuch as it 
is a passive sign, qua sacramental effect, and an active 
sign, qua symbol of Christ s union with His Church. The 
sacramentum tantum of Matrimony is its matter and 
form, while the res tantum coincides with the internal 
grace conferred by the Sacrament. The problem is some 
what more difficult in the case of Extreme Unction. 

29 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa Theol, 33, qu. 66, art. i. 


Suarez 30 admits both views, i. e. that which regards the 
"internal anointment" (viz.: the strengthening of the 
soul) and that which considers the " alleviation of the 
body " as the res et sacramentum. Perhaps it will be 
best to combine these two effects into one. Penance, too, 
offers a problem to the theologian who tries to apply to it 
the Scholastic distinction of which we are treating. De 
Lugo, after a critical examination of various theories, 
gives it as his opinion that the res simul et sacramentum 
of Penance, viewed in the light of the Tridentine teach 
ing, 31 is the " peace of mind " it effects. 32 

CONSISTS. With the possible exception of St. 
Augustine, the Fathers did not discuss the ques 
tion: Jn what does the sacramental character 
consist? The Scholastics tried to deduce some 
definite conclusions from Patristic teaching and 
conciliary definitions, but despite their ingenuity 
it must be admitted that it is much easier to tell 
in what the character does not consist, than in 
what it consists. 

a) Durandus regarded the sacramental character as 
a purely logical relation, resulting from a divine ordi 
nance or contract. 33 But since the Tridentine Council has 

so De Sacram., disp. 41, sect. 3. pp. 122 sqq., Freiburg 1895; Schee- 

31 Cone. Trident., Sess. XIV, cap. ben, Die -Mysterien des Christen- 
3. turns, 3rd ed., 83, Freiburg 1912; 

32 For a more exhaustive treat- Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmatische The- 
ment of the topics dealt with in this ologie, Vol. IV, 483* Mainz 1901. 
subdivision see Billot, De Ecclesiae 33 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist 
Sacramentis, Vol. I, 4th ed., thes. 4, qu. i: "Character non est nisi 
6, Rome 1907; E. Lingens, Die in- relatio rationis ex ordinatione vel 
nere Schonheit des Christentums, pactione divina." 


defined the character to be " a spiritual and indelible sign 
imprinted on the soul," we are not permitted to treat it 
as a mere figment of the mind. Nor does this theory 
sufficiently safeguard the Catholic teaching against cer 
tain heresies. There are few heretics who would not be 
willing to admit, for instance, that Baptism is the ground 
for a purely logical relation, inasmuch as one who has re 
ceived this sacrament can never deny that he is " bap 

Scotus and some of his followers have been accused of 
holding that the sacramental character is a real relation 
(relatio realis) or " relative form." In matter of fact 
Scotus himself treated this opinion merely as a hypothesis. 
His own idea was that the sacramental character is an 
" absolute form," and this teaching was espoused by 
his immediate followers. The opinion attributed to Scotus 
is untenable, because every real relation presupposes a 
foundation that is real, and consequently cannot be con 
ceived without a forma absoluta. St. Thomas demon 
strates this as follows : " The relation signified by the 
word sign must needs have some foundation. Now the 
relation implied in this sign which is a character/ cannot 
be founded immediately on the essence of the soul, because 
then it would belong to every soul naturally, [i. e. in that 
case all souls would have a character; Billuart]. Conse 
quently, there must be something in the soul on which 
such a relation is founded ; and this is the character itself. 
Therefore it need not be in the genus relation, as some 
have held." 34 

34 Summa Theol., aa, qu. 63, art. sentiam animae, quia sic conveniret 

2, ad 3 : " Relatio quae importatur omni animae naturaliter. Et idea 

in nomine signi, oportet quod super oportet aliquid poni in anima, super 

aliquid fundetur. Relatio out em quod fundetur talis relatio, et hoc 

Indus signi, quod est character, non est essentia characteris. Unde non 

potest fundari immediate super es- oportebit quod sit in genere rela- 


b) From what we have said it follows that, like sanc 
tifying grace, 35 the sacramental character must be con 
ceived as a real entity, and consequently is either a sub 
stance or an accident. It cannot be a substance, hence 
it must be an accident, and, since it is effected by a 
Sacrament and imprinted on the soul, it must be a 
supernatural accident. Such accidents belong to the cate 
gory of "quality" (iroion/s). Consequently, the sacra 
mental character may be defined as a permanent quality 
of the soul, and, in this respect, resembles sanctify 
ing grace. 

The question, to which of the four Aristotelian species 
of quality the sacramental character belongs, has given 
rise to a variety of opinions. 36 Suarez says it is an in 
fused habit and reckons it among the " first species " of 
quality. 37 Others regard it as a spiritual " figure or 
form " belonging to the " fourth species." Neither 
theory is tenable. The sacramental character cannot be a 
figure or form, nor a habit, because, unlike sanctifying 
grace, it may be applied to both good and evil purposes. 
Some theologians 38 are inclined to define the character as 
a " passibilis qualitas" (the third species of quality), be 
cause it is a sign or mark distinguishing certain men from 
others. But since the passible qualities are by nature 
transient 39 and have their proper place in the material 
world, this explanation, too, is unsatisfactory. The 

tionis, sicut quidam posuerunt." Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual and 

The history of this controversy can Habitual, pp. 332 sq. 

be read in Pourrat, Theology of 37 De Sacram., disp. 6, sect. 3, n. 

the Sacraments, French ed., pp. 6. 

223 sqq., English tr., pp. 204 sqq. 38 E. g., Pesch, Praelect. Dogmat., 

35 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Ac- Vol. VI, 3rd ed., p. 84. 

tual and Habitual, pp. 328 sqq. 39 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa 

36 Cfr. Lehmen, Lehrbuch der TheoL, 33, qu. 63, art. 3: " Cha- 
Philo sophie auf aristotelisch-scho- racier non est passio, quia passio cito 
lastischer Grundlage, Vol. II, 2nd transit, character autem indelebilis 
ed., pp. 398 sqq. Freiburg 1904; est." 


most acceptable theory is that of St. Thomas, who classes 
the sacramental character among the second species of 
quality. The sacramental character, he says, " is not a 
habit, because no habit is indifferent to acting well or ill, 
whereas a character is indifferent to either, since some use 
it well, some ill. Now this cannot occur with a habit, 
because no one abuses a habit of virtue or uses well an 
evil habit. It remains, therefore, that the character is a 
power." 40 Note, however, that the sacramental char 
acter does not confer a physical power. Those who are 
baptized, confirmed, and in Holy Orders can accomplish 
no more physically than others who have not received 
these three sacraments. The power which the character 
confers is, therefore, purely moral, and may be defined 
as a supernatural faculty ordained unto things pertaining 
to divine worship, according to the rite of the Christian 
religion, whether such worship (cultus) consist in re 
ceiving divine gifts or in bestowing them upon others 
(Billuart). Thus, God does not bestow the grace of an 
other Sacrament on any one who does not wear the bap 
tismal character, and He does not change bread and wine 
into the body and blood of Jesus Christ except at the bid 
ding of one who has the sacramental character of Or 
ders. 41 

Does the sacramental character reside in the substance 
of the soul or in some particular faculty thereof? This 
question also has given rise to a controversy. The Sco- 
tists, in accord with their general teaching, hold that the 
sacramental character resides in the will, while the Thom- 

40 L. c. : " [Character] non est bus non contingit; nam habitu virtu- 
habitus, quia nullus habitus est, qui tis nullus utitur male et habitu 
se possit ad bene et male habere. malitiae nullus bene; ergo relinqui- 
Character out em ad utrumque se tur quod character sit potcntia." 
habet; utuntur enim eo quidam 41 Cfr. Billuart, De Sacram., diss. 
bene, alii vero male, quod in habiti- 4, art. 2. 


ists assign it to the intellect. " A character needs to 
be in the soul s cognitive power, where also is faith," says 
St. Thomas. 42 Others 43 teach that the sacramental char 
acter resides in the very substance of the soul, because the 
Tridentine Council employs the phrase, " imprinted in 
the soul." As it is neither necessary nor advisable to 
accept St. Thomas radical distinction between the sub 
stance of the soul and its faculties, (in the adoption of 
which the Angelic Doctor was perhaps unduly influenced 
by his opposition to Scotism and Nominalism), we shall 
probably do best if we assign the sacramental character 
primarily to the substance of the soul and secondarily to 
its faculties or powers, i. e. the intellect and the will. 
This seems all the more acceptable in view of the fact 
that the object of the character (which is, to confer the 
ability to perform religious acts of worship) involves both 
the intellect and the will. 

ACTER. As God does nothing without a purpose, 
it is impossible to evade the question : For what 
purpose was the sacramental character instituted ? 
To avoid useless speculation, we shall limit our 
discussion to the data furnished by divine Reve 

a) Recalling the passages previously quoted from St. 
Augustine, 44 we say that the sacramental character im 
plies on the part of the recipient a sort of " consecra 
tion " in the sense of objective sanctification (sacer, 

42 Summa Theol, sa, qu. 63, art. 43 Notably Bellarmine, Suarez, 

4, ad 3 : " Oportet quod clwracter sit and De Lugo. 

in cognitive* potentia animae, in qua 44 V. supra, p. 79, notes 13, and 

i est fides." 15- 


oo-to?), not subjective holiness (sanctus, ayios). 45 St. 
Augustine, compelled by the Donatists to emphasize not 
only the distinction between, but the actual separability of, 
grace and character (sanctificatio and consecratio) , in 
sisted that heretics may receive and sinners retain the sac 
ramental character without grace. St. Thomas went a 
long step farther by defining consecratio as deputatio ad 
divinum cultum, i. e. a bestowal of the spiritual power 
necessary to perform acts of divine worship. 46 This is 
plainly apparent in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It 
is not so apparent in Baptism and Confirmation. But the 
passive receptivity which these Sacraments confer is 
really an active power, viz.: the power, through Baptism, 
to receive the other Sacraments, to participate in all the 
rights and duties of a child of the true Church, and to 
be a member of the mystic body of Christ ; and, through 
Confirmation, the power of professing the Catholic faith, 
if necessary at the risk of life, and of serving as a sol 
dier in the army of the Lord. All these functions con 
stitute necessary parts of Christian worship. 

b) The very name character (xapaKT^p), and its de 
scription as a stamp or seal (signaculum, o-$payi s, o-$pa- 
yioyxa), indicate that it may be a threefold sign, viz.: (a) 
signum distinctivum or a mark discriminating various ob 
jects; (2) signum obligativum, denoting a duty; (3) 

45 The distinction between these aliquid certum deputatur, consuevit 
two notions is explained in Pohle- ad illud consignors, sicut milites, qui 
Preuss, God: His Knowability, Es- adscribebantur ad militiam antiqui- 
sence, and Attributes, 2nd ed., pp. tus, solebant quibusdam char act eri- 
258 sq. bus corporalibus insigniri, eo quod 

46 Cfr. Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 63, dcputabantur ad aliquid corporate. 
art. i : " Sacramento Novae Legis Et idea quum homines per sacra- 
ad duo ordinantur, vid. ad remedium menta deputentur ad aliquid spiritu- 
contra peccatum et ad pcrficiendam ale pertinens ad cultum Dei, conse- 
animam in his quae pertinent ad quens est quod per ea fideles aliquo 
cultum Dei secundum ritum chri- spirituali charactere insigniantur." 
stianae vitae. Quicunque autem ad 


signum configurativum, marking similarity. The im 
press of a seal or stamp produces a triple effect : it renders 
an object recognizable, it marks the object as part of one s 
property, and it produces in it a likeness of the owner. 
The sacramental character exercises all these functions, 
and in addition to them a fourth, namely, to prepare the 
soul for grace. In this last-mentioned respect it is called 
signum dispositimtm. 

a) The sacramental character is, first, a signum di- 
stinctivum or mark differentiating those who are bap 
tized, confirmed or ordained, from those who have not re 
ceived these Sacraments. No one can belong to the ex 
ternal organism or body of the Church except he wear 
the character of Baptism, and no one lacking the char 
acter of Holy Orders can perform the functions of a 
priest. The character conferred by the Sacrament of 
Confirmation is similar to that of Baptism, only perfected 
and developed. 

Though God and the angels require no sign to enable 
them to tell whether a man belongs to the true Church or 
to the priesthood, such a sign is by no means superfluous, 
since God not only appoints men to office, but also gives 
them the necessary interior qualification. An office that 
is to be actually exercised requires a real foundation, and 
it is this that the sacramental character supplies. But 
even for us, who are unable to perceive it, the character is 
not without meaning, because the visible reception of one 
of the three sacraments in question infallibly guarantees 
the possession of the invisible character. 47 The sacra 
mental character, therefore, retains its value as a distinc- 

47 Cfr. Summa Theol., 3a, qu. 63, sacramentum imprimitur; per hoc 

art. i, ad 2: " Character animae enim scitur aliguis esse baptismal* 

impressus habet rationem signi [di- charactere insignitus, quod est ablu- 

stinctivi], inquantum per sensibile tus aqua sensibili." 


tive sign also in the world to come, where it will enhance 
the happiness of the elect and add to the confusion of 
the damned. 

/?) The sacramental character is, secondly, a signum 
obligativum, in so far as it marks a man as the inalienable 
property of Jesus Christ, unites him indissolubly with the 
God-man, whose sign and livery he wears, and lays upon 
him the obligation of performing those acts of divine wor 
ship which the Sacrament, by virtue of its character, im 
poses as an official duty. By Baptism, Confirmation, and 
Holy Orders respectively, the recipient is officially 
marked and charged with certain specific duties. Bap 
tism imposes the duties of a subject; Confirmation, those 
of a soldier; Holy Orders, those of a minister of Jesus 
Christ. 48 

y) The sacramental character is, in the third place, a 
signum configurativum, inasmuch as it constitutes the soul 
an image of God. 49 Not, of course, in the sense in which 
man is a natural likeness of the Creator ; nor in the sense 
in which he is a supernatural image of God by virtue of 
sanctifying grace. The sacramental character may be in 
the soul without grace. St. Thomas Aquinas adopts the 
technical definition of Peter Lombard : " Character est 
distinctio a Character e aeterno [Christ o] impressa animae 
rationali secundum imaginem consignans trinitatein crea- 
tam [animam] Trinitati creanti et recreanti." 50 This 
definition, however, can be accepted only with the reser 
vation that every created effect (and the sacramental 
character is a created effect) in some way reflects the 

48 Cfr. Farine, Der sakramentale 3: " Actus charactcris, a quo 
Charakter, pp. 18 sqq., Freiburg nomen accepit, et principalis est 
1904. configurare." 

49 Cfr. St. Bonaventure, Com- 60 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 
tnent. in Sent., IV, dist. 6, p. i, qu. 4, qu. i, art. 2, sol. 2. 


image of the Blessed Trinity. 51 In contradistinction to 
sanctifying grace, the supernatural configuratio or as- 
similatio conferred by the sacramental character estab 
lishes a proper likeness to Christ, not indeed as if the 
soul participated in His Divine Sonship, 52 but in the sense 
of sharing in His office of High Priest. By receiving the 
sacramental character, a man is designated, empowered, 
and placed under obligation to perform certain acts of 
worship which bear a special relation to our Divine 
Saviour s sacerdotal office. 53 Consequently, the sacra 
mental character, considered as a signum configurativum, 
is not so much the character of the Holy Trinity, as that 
of Christ the High Priest. Hence such Patristic phrases 
as : character doininicus, oriy/xa Xpto-rou, i. e. family mark 
of Christ. 54 It would, however, be a mistake to suppose 
that the God-man Himself is a high priest only by virtue of 
a character in which He permits those who receive the 
sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders 
to share. Christ is our natural Mediator by virtue 
of the Hypostatic Union, and, consequently, a High Priest 
not by grace but by nature. 55 It is only in the light of 
this teaching that i Pet. II, 9 : " You are a chosen gen- 

51 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, God the Au- est quod character sacramentalis 
thor of Nature and the Supernal- specialiter est character Christi, cu- 
ural, pp. 38 sqq. ius sacerdotio configurantur fideles 

52 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Ac- secundum sacramentales characteres, 
tual and Habitual, pp. 356 sqq. qui nihil aliud sunt quam quaedam 

53 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Soteriology, participationes sacerdotii Christi ab 
pp. in sqq. ipso Christo derivatae." 

64 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa 55 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Soteriology, 

Theol., 33, qu. 63, art. 3: " Depu- pp. 127 sqq. St. Thomas, Summa 

tatur quisque fidelis ad recipiendum Theol., 33, qu. 63, art. 5 : " Christo 

vel tradendum aliis ea quae perti- non competit habere characterem, 

nent ad cultum Dei, et ad hoc sed potestas sacerdotii eius compa- 

proprie deputatur character sacra- ratur ad characterem, sicut id quod 

mentalis. Totus autem ritus chri- est plenum et perfectum ad aliquam 

stianae religionis derivatur a sacer- sui participationem." 
dotio Christi. Et ideo manifestum 


eration, a kingly priesthood," can be fully understood. 
8) The sacramental character is, lastly, a signum dis- 
positivum, a sign disposing the soul for the reception of, 
and thereby bestowing a claim to, grace. Grace, as we 
have shown in a previous treatise, 56 is either sanctifying 
or actual. The sacramental character, as a signum dis- 
positivum for sanctifying grace, must not be conceived 
as a " physical predisposition " for, or a " preliminary 
stage" of, that grace (lumen semiplenum, diminutum) f 7 
because it is not a form of sanctification. The connec 
tion between character and grace is purely moral, and 
may be described as a kind of affinity, inasmuch as the 
sacramental character, in view of its purpose, ought 
never to exist without sanctifying grace. 58 It is in this 
light that the Fathers who wrote before St. Augustine 
regarded the sacramental character, when they said that 
it has an intrinsic relation to adoptive sonship, the in 
dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the just, and the 
beatific vision of God in Heaven. Furthermore, the sac 
ramental character confers a moral claim to all actual 
graces necessary for the worthy fulfilment of the office or 
dignity conferred by the respective Sacrament. 59 De 
Lugo, following the Fathers, enumerates still another 
effect. The guardian angels, he says, watch with special 
solicitude over the bearer of this " spiritual seal," while the 

56 Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual and 69 This is the teaching of St. 
Habitual. V. supra Sect. 2, Art. i, Thomas, Summa Theol., 33, qu. 63, 
Theses I and II. art. 3, ad i: "Character autem 

57 It is thus conceived by Alex- directe et propinque disponit anitnam 
ander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, ad ea quae sunt divini cultus exe- 
and the Franciscan school of theo- quenda. Et quia haec idonee non 
logians generally. fiunt sine auxilio gratiae, . . . ex 

58 Cfr. St. Bonaventure, Com- consequent divina largitas recipien- 
ment. in Sent., IV, dist. 6, p. i, qu. tibus charactcrem largitur gratiam, 
2, ad 3: "Character significat per quam digne impleant ea, ad 
gratiam, et quod ibi non sit, hoc est quae deputantur." 

ex defectu suscipientis tantum." 


demons are constrained to moderate their attacks upon 
him. 60 

c) It remains to explain why only three of 
the Sacraments confer the character, while the 
other four do not. 

In declaring that Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Or 
ders confer the sacramental character, the Council of 
Trent plainly intimates that the other four Sacraments 
do not confer it. This is indeed the common teaching, 
which can also be inferred from the fact that, according 
to the Decretwm pro Armenis, the other four Sacraments 
can be received more than once for the reason that they 
do not imprint the sacramental character. 61 But why do 
only Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders confer 
the character? 

The sacramental character, as we have seen, is inti 
mately related to Christ s office of High Priest. We 
know from Soteriology 62 that this office is inseparable 
from our Lord s other offices of Prophet and King, and 
that the three interpenetrate and limit each other. Now, 
as there are three offices of the Redeemer, so there are 
three offices among those whom He has redeemed. Each 
of these has its special mark or character. Baptism 
stamps the recipient a subject of Christ as King; Con 
firmation marks him as a courageous pupil of Christ in His 
capacity of Prophet or Teacher; Holy Orders distin 
guishes him as a minister of the God-man in His capacity 
of High Priest. 

60 De Lugo, De Sacram., disp. mittunt." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 
6, sect. 3, n. 44. 695). 

61 Dfcret. pro Armen. : " Reliqua 62 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Soteriology, 
vero quattuor character em non im- p. 158. 

primunt et \ideo] reiterationem ad- 


The remaining four Sacraments do not thus empower 
those who receive them to perform acts of public wor 
ship. Penance and Extreme Unction are essentially 
medicinal ; the Holy Eucharist, though the most sublime 
of all the Sacraments, is rather a spiritual food and sig 
nifies the mystic union of the soul with Christ; Matri 
mony elevates to the sphere of grace, and thus sanctifies 
and ennobles, the natural union between male and fe 
male. From a purely philosophical point of view there 
is no reason why this latter Sacrament should not confer a 
character. Like Holy Orders, it establishes a state of 
life and represents an important office in the Church, in 
asmuch as it supplies those whom she is commissioned 
to raise to the rank of children of God and citi 
zens of Heaven. Nevertheless, there is not between 
Matrimony and the three offices of the Redeemer that 
intimate connection which we have shown to exist be 
tween those offices and the Sacraments of Baptism, Con 
firmation, and Holy Orders. Hence there is no place in 
the external organization of the Church for such a thing 
as a sacramental character conferred by Matrimony. 63 

READINGS : St. Thomas, Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 63, art. 2. 
Billuart, De Sacramentis in Communi, diss. 3, art. 3-5. *De 
Lugo, De Sacram. in Genere, disp. 4, sect. 2-3. *De Augustinis, 
DC Re Sacramentaria, Vol. I, 2 nd ed., pp. 273 sqq., 294 sqq., 
Rome 1889. Tepe, Instit. TheoL, Vol. IV, pp. 50 sqq., Paris 
1896. Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dogmat. Theologie, Vol. IV, 492 
sq., Mainz 1901. N. Gihr, Die hi. Sakramente der kath. Kirche, 
Vol. I, 2nd ed., 14 sq., Freiburg 1902. De Bellevue, La Grace 
Sacramentelle, Paris 1900. 

On the dogma of the character cfr. : St. Thomas, Summa 
TheoL, 3a, qu. 63, art. i. Billuart, De Sacramentis in Communi, 

63 On the questions dealt with in Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 109 sqq., 
this subdivision of our treatise cfr. Freiburg 1902. 
Gihr, Die hi. Sakramente der kath. 


diss. 4, art. 1-3. Bellarmine, De Sacram. in Genere, 1. II, cap. 
18-20. De Lugo, De Sacram. in Genere, disp. 6, sect. 1-4. 
*Franzelin, De Sacram. in Genere, thes. 12 sq., Rome 1888. 
De Augustinis, De Re Sacramentaria, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 308 
sqq. P. Schanz, Die Lehre von den hi. Sakramenten, 10, Frei 
burg 1893. *Lorinser, De Character e Sacramentali, Oppolii 1844. 
La Farine Der sakramentale Charakter, Freiburg 1904. O. 
Laake, Der sakramentale Charakter, Miinster 1903. F. Bronv 
mer, Die Lehre vom sakramentalen Charakter in der Scholastik 
bis Thomas v. Aquin inklusive, Paderborn 1908. Garrett Pierse, 
" The Origin of the Doctrine of the Sacramental Character," in 
the Irish Theological Quarterly, Vol. VI (1911), No. 2, pp. 196- 




External sign and interior grace constitute the 
two internal causes (materialis and formalis) of 
a Sacrament. Its external or efficient cause 
(causa efficient) is its institution by our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Christ is the author of the Sacraments in a 
threefold sense : ( i ) He has merited their sanc 
tifying power by His passion and death; (2) He 
has personally instituted them; and (3) He has 
so determined the matter and form of each that 
the Church cannot alter their substance, though 
she is free to institute new ceremonies and sac- 
ramentals. We shall demonstrate this in four 
separate and distinct theses. 

Thesis I: Christ Himself instituted all the Sacra 
ments in the sense that He alone, by His passion and 
death, is their meritorious cause. 

This proposition is de fide. 

Proof. The Tridentine Council teaches : "If 
anyone saith that the Sacraments of the New Law 
were not all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, 



... let him be anathema." 1 Hence the institu 
tion of the Sacraments by Christ is an article of 
faith, at least in this sense that they derive 
their sanctifying power solely from the merits of 
the atonement, and, consequently, owe their ex 
istence to the human will of our Lord. 2 

a) The principle underlying this thesis, (viz.: 
that in the present economy there is and 
can be no grace not derived from the merits of 
Christ), has been sufficiently demonstrated in 
Soteriology. 3 If Christ is the meritorious cause 
of the Sacraments, He must also be their au 
thor, inasmuch as against or without His will no 
grace can be bestowed on those whom He has re 
deemed. 4 It follows that Christ is, either im 
mediately or mediately, the author of all the Sac 

b) From the speculative point of view the fol 
lowing considerations are pertinent. 

a) In regard to the institution of the Sacraments we 
may distinguish a threefold power: the divine potestas 
auctoritatis , the theandric potestas excettentiae, and the 
purely human potestas ministerii. The potestas auctori- 
tatis belongs to God alone, the potestas excellentiae to 
Christ in His human capacity, the potestas ministerii to 
His ministers or representatives on earth. 

1" Si quis dixerit, sacrament a 2V. Thesis II, infra, pp. 101 sqq. 

Novae Legis non fuisse omnia a 3 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Soteriology, 

lesu Christo Domino nostro insti- pp. 5 sqq., St. Louis, 1914. 

tuta, ... anathema sit." (Sess. 4 Cfr. Matth. XXVIII, 18 sq.; 

VII, can. i; Denzinger-Bannwart, n. John XX, 21 sqq.; Rom. VI, 3 sq. ; 

844). i Cor. I, 13; Eph. V, 26. 


As regards the potestas auctoritatis, evidently no one 
but God was able to attach internal grace to external 
signs and thus to institute real sacraments. Hence if 
such visible means of grace exist, they must owe their 
existence to Him. 

The Sacraments derive their origin from, and owe their 
institution to, Christ, not only as God, but also as man. He 
is the natural mediator between God and man both in 
His divine and in His human nature. The graces which 
He merited for us, and which He distributes through the 
Sacraments, were merited in His human nature. Conse 
quently, in the institution of the Sacraments, Christ acted 
not only with His divine but also with His human will. 
Although His human activity asserted itself only in- 
strumentally and ministerially, it was most excellent 
for the reason that His humanity, on account of the Hypo- 
static Union, must be considered as instrument-urn 
coniunctum of the Divinity and on account of its dignity 
stands out as the causa ministerialis principally. It fol 
lows that the Sacraments, while they are truly instrumen 
tal causes of interior sanctification, are merely instrumenta 
separata, and their human administrators, though min 
isterial causes of the distribution of grace, are merely 
causae minister iales subordinatae. Consequently, the hu 
man potestas nnnisterii mentioned above, is as far be 
neath the potestas excellentiae of Christ qua man, as the 
potestas excellentiae is inferior to the divine potestas 
auctoritatis. 5 

(3) The potestas excellentiae Christi, which is so 
important a factor in the institution of the Sacraments, 
operates in a fourfold manner. 

6 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa Theol., tis, ita inquantum homo, habet po- 

33, qu. 64, art. 3: " Et ideo sicut testatem ministerii principalis sive 

Christus, inquantum Deus, habet potestatem excellentiae." 
potestatem auctoritatis in sacramen- 




(1) The merits of Christ are the sole operative power 
of all the Sacraments. This truth is the very foundation 
and corner-stone of the Catholic doctrine of the Sacra 
ments. 6 

(2) Christ s potestas excellentiae also manifests itself 
in the fact that there can be no Sacraments except those 
administered in His name and by His power. The ad 
ministration and distribution of graces is entirely subject 
to Him who has merited and accumulated them. 7 

(3) There can be no Sacrament that does not depend, 
either mediately or immediately, upon the human will of 
Christ as its author; for it is as man that Christ is our 
natural Mediator, the fount of grace, and the High Priest 
of humanity. 8 

(4) The potestas excellentiae also reveals itself in this 
that Christ, as man, is independent of the Sacraments, 
inasmuch as He can remit sins and impart graces 
without their instrumentality, a prerogative denied to 
His human representatives. 9 

6 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa TheoL, dammodo nobis copulatur per sus- 

33, qu. 64, art. 5 : " Principalis uu- ceptionem sacrament or um." 

tern causa efficient gratiae est ipse 7 Cfr. Acts II, 38, VIII, 12; i 

Deus, ad quern comparatur humani- Cor. I, 12 sq. 

tas Christi sicut instrumentum con- 8 V. Soteriology. 

iunctum, sacramentum autem sicut 9 Matth. IX, 2 sqq. Cfr. St. 

instrumentum separatum. Et idea Thomas, Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 64, 

oportet quod virtus salutifera a di- art. 3: ". . . quae quidem [pote- 

vinitate Christi per eius humanitatem stas excellentiae] consistit in quat- 

in ipsa sacramenta derivetur. . . . tuor: primo quidem in hoc quod 

Manifestum est autem ex his quae meritum et virtus passionis eius 

supra dicta sunt (qu. 48, 49), quod operatur in sacramentis . . .; ideo 

Christus liberavit nos a peccatis secundo ad potestatem excellentiae, 

nostris praecipue per passionem, non quam Christus habet in sacramentis, 

solum sufficienter et meritorie, sed pertinet quod in eius nomine sa- 

etiam satisfactorie. Similiter etiam cramenta sanctificentur. Et quia ex 

per suam passionem initiavit ritum eius institutione sacramenta virtu- 

christianae religionis. . . . Unde tern obtinent, inde est quod tertio 

manifestum est quod sacramenta ec- ad excellentiam potestatis Christi 

clesiae specialiter habent virtutem ex pertinet quod ipse, qui dedit virtu- 

passione Christi, cuius virtus quo- tern sacramentis, potuit instituere 


Thesis II: The Sacraments of the Christian dis 
pensation have been immediately and personally in 
stituted by Christ. 

This proposition may be technically qualified as 
propositio certa. 

Proof. After showing that the Sacraments 
have Christ for their author, we have now to 
demonstrate that He instituted them immediately 
and personally, and not through the instrumen 
tality of His Apostles or the Church. 

Before the Tridentine Council some theologians held 
that Christ personally instituted most of the Sacraments, 
but not all. Hugh of St. Victor, Peter Lombard, and St. 
Bonaventure, for instance, thought that Confirmation and 
Extreme Unction were instituted by the Apostles under 
the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. 10 Alexander of Hales 
even went so far as to maintain that Confirmation cannot 
be traced farther back than the Council of Meaux, A. D. 
845. This was an egregious historical blunder, as 
the Council of Meaux passed only disciplinary regula 
tions. 11 

Since the Council of Trent Catholic theologians are so 
firmly convinced of the immediate institution of the Sac- 

sacramenta. Et quia causa non de- 10 Cfr. St. Bonaventure, Com- 

pendet ab effectu, sed potius e con- ment. in Sent., IV, dist. 23, art. i, 

trario, ideo quarto ad excellentiam qu. 2: " Et ideo probabilius alii 

potestatis pertinet quod ipse potuit dicunt et Magister videtur hoc 

effectum sacramentorum sine ex- sentire, into aperte dicit, quod Spi- 

teriori sacramento conferre." These ritus Sanctus hoc sacramentum \_ex- 

four reasons in principle establish tremae unctionis] per Apostolos 

the institution of all the Sacraments institute, sicut supra dictum est de 

by Christ. Cfr. De Augustinis, De sacramento confirmationis." 

Re Sacramentaria, Vol. I, 2nd ed., 11 See Labbe, Condi., t. VII, p. 

pp. 125 sqq.; Gihr, Die hi. Sakra- 1833. 
mente, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 124 sq. 


raments by Christ that some of them 12 teach it as a 
dogma, while all without exception regard it as doctrina 

Though the Tridentine Council, out of regard for the 
authority of such eminent theologians as St. Bonaventure, 
purposely refrained from defining the immediate institu 
tion of the Sacraments by Jesus Christ as an article of 
faith, its teaching on the subject is quite unmistakable 
in its implications. 

(1) Whenever a personal name is connected with the 
institution of a rite, the bearer of that name must mani 
festly have instituted the rite in person. In the Trident 
ine definition " Jesus " and " Christ " are thus connected 
with the institution of the Sacraments (v. supra, Thesis 
I). Moreover, the Council itself draws a sharp distinc 
tion between the ceremonies ordained by the Church 14 
and the Sacraments instituted by Christ. 15 

(2) Wherever it speaks of the institution of those 
Sacraments that were undoubtedly instituted by our Di 
vine Saviour in person, the Council employs precisely the 
same terms as in the canon just referred to; 16 conse 
quently, that canon must be understood as inculcating the 
immediate institution of all the Sacraments by Christ. 

(3) Had the Church received from her Divine Founder 
the power to institute Sacraments, she would also have 
the power of changing the substance of any Sacrament, 

12 E. g., Bellarmine, Vasquez, cramenta Novae Legis non fuisse 
Gonet, against Suarez, Billuart, omnia a lesu Christo Domino nostro 
Tournely, et al. instituta, anathema sit. " 

13 Cfr. Suarez, De Sacramentis, 14 Sess. VII, can. 13. 
disp. 12, i: " Christus Dominus is Sess. VII, can. i. 
immediate ac per se ipsum institnit 16 Cfr. Cone. Trid., Sess. XIV, 
omnia sacramenta Novae Legis. cap. i; Sess. XXII, can. 2; Sess. 
Conclusio est omnino certa ex de- XXIII, cap. i ; Sess. XXIV, 
finitione Concilii Tridentini (Sess. prooem: " Ipse Christus venerabi- 
VII, can. i): Si quis dixerit, sa- Hum sacrament orum institutor . . ." 


both with regard to matter and form. But this is ex 
pressly denied by the Council. 17 

(4) The Council teaches in regard to Extreme Unc 
tion, the Sacrament mainly in dispute, that it is " a Sacra 
ment instituted by Christ our Lord and promulgated by 
the blessed Apostle James," 18 a phrase which positively 
excludes the theory that this Sacrament may have been 
instituted by the Apostles or the Church. 

In the light of these considerations the reader will be 
able to form his own opinion of the contention of Loisy, 19 
condemned in the so-called " Syllabus of Pius X," that 
Christ did not institute a single one of the traditional 
Sacraments, but that they were all introduced in course of 
time by the Church. 20 

a) Holy Writ furnishes direct evidence that 
at least two of the Sacraments were insti 
tuted immediately by Christ, namely, Baptism 
(Matth. XXVIII, 19, John III, 5) and the Holy 
Eucharist (Matth. XXVI, 26 sqq., et passim). 
Besides these there is good scriptural reason to 
suppose that our Saviour personally instituted 
Penance (John XX, 23) and Holy Orders (Luke 
XXII, 19). 

While we have no direct evidence concerning the other 
three Sacraments, we are justified in assuming that they 
derive their existence from the same divine origin. 

17 Sess. XXI, cap. 2: " Praeterea 18 Sess. XIV, can. i: " Extre- 

declarat, hanc potestatem perpetuo mam unctionem esse . . . sacramen- 

in Ecclesia fuisse, ut in sacramen- turn a Christo Domino nostro in- 

torum dispensatione, salva illorum stitutum et a B. lacobo Apostolo 

substantia, ea statueret vel mutaret, promulgatum." 

quae suscipientium utilitati seu 10 Autour d un Petit Livre, pp. 

ipsorum sacrament orum venerationi 220 sqq., Paris 1903. 

pro rerum, temporum et locorum 20 Denzinger-Bannwart, Enchiri- 

varietate magis expedire iudicarct." dion, n. 2039 sqq. 


Like Baptism, the Eucharist, Penance, and Holy Orders, 
Confirmation, Extreme Unction, and Matrimony are 
veritable pillars of the Catholic religion. All three 
are plainly mentioned in Holy Scripture 21 and there 
fore cannot possibly have been instituted in post- 
Apostolic times. That they are not of Apostolic origin 
may safely be inferred from the fact that the Apostles 
never appear as the authors but invariably as the adminis 
trators of the Sacraments. Cf r. i Cor. IV, i : " Let a man 
so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dis 
pensers of the mysteries of God." i Cor. Ill, 4 sq. : 
"What then is Apollo? and what is Paul? The min 
isters of him whom you have believed." 22 

b) The Fathers know of no distinction be 
tween mediate and immediate institution in re 
spect of the Sacraments. 

Pseudo- Ambrose asks : " Who is the author of the Sac 
raments if not the Lord Jesus? These Sacraments have 
come from heaven." 23 Special importance attaches, as 
Vasquez points out, 24 to the testimony of St. Augustine, 
who says : " In the first place, therefore, I want you to 
hold . . . that the Lord Jesus Christ . . . subjected us 
to a light yoke and an easy burden. Hence He bound the 
society of the new people with Sacraments very few in 
number, easy of observance, eminent in signification, as, 
for instance, Baptism consecrated by the name of the 

21 Confirmation, Acts VIII, 17, Paulus? Ministri (Sta/co^oi) eius, 
XIX, 6; Extreme Unction, Jas. V, cui credidistis." 

14 sqq. ; Matrimony, Eph. V, 25 sqq. 23 De Sacram., IV, 4, 13: " Sa- 

22 i Cor. IV, i : " Sic nos existi- cramentorum auctor quis est nisi 
met homo ut ministros Christi et Dominus Jesus? De caelo ista sa- 
dispensatores (OIKOVO/ULOVS) my- cramenta venerunt." 

steriorum Dei." i Cor. Ill, 4 sq.: 24 Comment, in S. Th., Ill, disp. 

" Quid igitur est Apollo? quid vero 135, c. i, n. 9. 


Trinity, the communication of His own body and blood, 
and whatever else is commended in the canonical Scrip 
tures." 25 Baptism and the Holy Eucharist are here as 
cribed immediately to Christ, together with the other Sac 
raments commended in the canonical Scriptures, i. e. all 
seven as we know them. Where he speaks of the deeds 
of our Lord on earth, Augustine says : " In the time of 
servitude, under the Old Law, the people, bound by 
fear, were burdened with many sacraments. This was 
useful for them, that they might desire the grace of God 
which the prophets had predicted. When it came, the 
wisdom of God, through the assumption of the man 
by whom we were called to liberty, instituted a few highly 
useful Sacraments, which were to bind together the society 
of the Christian people, that is, of the multitude enjoy 
ing freedom under the one God." 2G Augustine is well 
aware of the fact that Christ might have granted the 
faculty of instituting Sacraments to His Apostles, yet 
he says: " [Christ] did not wish this, in order that the 
hope of the baptized be in Him by whom they acknowl 
edge their Baptism. . . . Therefore, lest there be said to 
be as many baptisms as [there are] ministers who bap 
tize, having received the power to do so from the Lord, 
the Lord kept for Himself the power of baptizing, giving 

25 St. Augustine, Ep. 54 ad la- 26 De Vera Religione, c. 17, n. 33: 

nuar., c. i : " Primo itaque tcnere " Populus timore constrictus tern- 

te volo, . . . Dominum nostrum pore servitutis in Vetere Lege multis 

lesum Christum . . , levi iugo suo sacramentis onerabatur. Hoc enim 

nos subdidisse et sarcinae levi. talibus utile erat ad desiderandam 

Unde sacramentis numero paucissi- gratiam Dei, quae per prophet as 

mis, observations facillimis, signifi- ventura canebatur. Quae ubi venit, 

catione praestantissimis societatem ab ipsa Dei sapientia homine as- 

novi populi colligavit, sicuti est bap- sumpto, a quo in libertatem vocati 

tismus Trinitatis nomine consecratus, sumus, pauca sacramenta saluberrima 

communicatio corporis et sanguinis constituta sunt, quae societatem 

ipsius et si quid aliud in Scripturis christiani populi, hoc est sub uno 

canonicis commendatur." Deo liberae multitudinis contine- 



His servants [merely] the ministry/ 27 The latter part 
of this passage indicates the reason why Christ instituted 
the Sacraments immediately and personally. The idea 
is more fully developed by St. Thomas. 28 

c) Theologians grant the abstract possibility of a me 
diate institution of the Sacraments by the Apostles or by 
the Church, but they grant it only conditionally, that is in 
so far as it does not involve a denial of the doctrine set 
forth in our first thesis. 29 Though some 30 are unwilling 
to admit that Christ could have imparted His power to 
mere men, the common opinion is that, had He so willed, 
He could have empowered the Apostles and the Church to 
institute Sacraments at His behest. Of course, the dis 
tinction between the divine potestas auctoritatis and the 
theandric potestas excellentiae must always be kept in 
mind. The former is incommunicable, while the latter 
may, to a certain limited extent, be bestowed upon crea 
tures. 31 

27 Tract, in loa., V, n. 7: "Hoc quae competit ei secundum quod 
noluit idea, lit in illo spes esset bap- homo, et talem potestatem potuit 
tisatorum, a quo se baptisatos agno- ministris communicare, dando scil. 
scerent. . . . Ergo ne tot baptisma- eis tantam gratiae plenitudinem, ut 
ta dicerentur, quot essent servi eorum meritum operaretur ad sa- 
qui baptizarent accepta potestate cramentorum effectus, ut ad invoca- 
a Domino, sibi tenuit Dominus tionem nominum ipsorum sanctifica- 
baptisandi potestatem, servis mini- rentur sacramenta, et ut ipsi possent 
sterium dedit." sacramenta instituere et sine ritu 

28 Summa Theol., 3a, qu. 64, art. sacramentorum effectum sacramen- 
4. See also Suarez, De Sacram., torum conferre solo imperio. Potest 
disp. 12, sect. i. enim instrumentum coniunctum [i. 

29 V. supra, p. 97. e. humanitas Christi~\, quando fuerit 

30 E. g., Durandus, Scotus, and fortius, tanto magis virtutem suam 
Vasquez. instrumento separate [i. e. ministro] 

31 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa Theol., tribuere, sicut manus baculo." To 
33, qu. 64, art. 4: " Christus in the objection that such a (hypo- 
sacramentis habuit duplicem pote- thetic) plenipotentiary, by the posses- 
statem: unam auctoritatis, quae com- sion of such incredible privileges, 
petit ei secundum quod Deus, et talis would eo ipso be the caput gratiae 
potestas nulli creaturae potuit com- of humanity, St. Thomas replies with 
municari, sicut nee divina essentia. a distinction: " 5"t tamen [Christus] 
Aliam potestatem habuit excellentiae, communicasset, ipse esset caput 


Thesis III: Christ so determined the matter and 
form of the Sacraments that they are immutable for all 

This proposition embodies a sententia commu- 

Proof. The matter and form of a Sacrament 
may be determined individually, specifically, or 

They are determined individually if everything is mi 
nutely regulated in detail, as, for instance, the exact 
method of pouring out the water and the precise words to 
be pronounced by the minister in Baptism. The history 
and practice of the Greek Church furnish ample evi 
dence that our Lord did not thus determine the matter and 
form of the Sacraments in individuo. 

By specific determination we understand a designa 
tion of matter and form in infima specie. Theologians 
are agreed that Christ specifically determined the matter 
and form of some of the Sacraments (e. g., Baptism 
and the Eucharist), but not of all (especially Confirma 
tion and Holy Orders). 32 

Generic determination is a designation of matter and 
form only quoad genus. Some theologians 33 assert that 
Christ determined the rite of ordination in such a general 
way, leaving the choice of a specific sign to His Church. 
This would account for the differences existing in the 
Eastern and the Western Churches. We admit that this 
theory enables us to explain more satisfactorily, from the 

principaliter, alii vcro secundario." point we must refer the student 

(L. c., ad 2). Cfr. De Lugo, De to the separate treatises on the 

Sacram., disp. 7, sect. 1-2; Franze- Sacraments. 

lin, De Sacram. in Genere, thes. 14. 33 E. g., De Lugo {De Sacram., 

32 For further details on this disp. 2, sect. 5). 


historic point of view, the differences that have developed 
in the administration of other Sacraments (e. g., Confir 
mation and Penance) in the course of centuries. Ac 
cording to the unanimous teaching of theologians, the 
phrase " matter and form " comprises all those elements, 
and those elements only, which Christ Himself instituted 
either in specie, or at least in genere, and over these the 
Church has no power. 

Nevertheless, solid arguments can be adduced 
in support of the proposition that Christ Himself 
so determined both the matter and the form of 
all the Sacraments, not only in genere, but like 
wise in specie, that the Church has never made 
any essential change in regard thereto, and could 
not make such a change if she would. 

a) One of these arguments may be formulated as fol 
lows : Christ immediately and personally instituted all the 
Sacraments. 34 Now every Sacrament consists essentially 
of matter and form. 35 Consequently, Christ, who insti 
tuted the Sacraments, must have determined their matter 
and form. If the Apostles or the Church had determined 
the matter or the form of any Sacrament, they would 
have mediately instituted that Sacrament. And if it 
were true, as some theologians assert, that for the Sacra 
ment of Holy Orders the Church took the specification of 
matter and form into her own hands and carried it out dif 
ferently in the East and in the West, it would have to 
be admitted that she has changed the Sacrament essen 
tially. For whoever changes the matter and form of a 
Sacrament, changes the Sacrament itself. Moreover, if 
the Church had at any time in the past possessed the power 

84 V. Thesis II, supra. 36 V. supra, Ch. II, Sect. x. 


to determine the matter and form of a Sacrament, she 
would have the same power to-day, in accordance with 
Toletus principle : " Cuius est facere, est etiam mu- 
tare." 36 But the Church herself expressly denies that 
she has any such power. 37 Consequently, the matter 
and form of all the Sacraments including Confirma 
tion, Holy Orders, and Matrimony have been specific 
ally determined by Christ Himself. 

Tradition affords no evidence that the Church ever in 
troduced any particular sign as the matter and form of a 
Sacrament, or that she substituted any new sign for one 
already in use. Pope Benedict XIV, who firmly held 
the theory just expounded, boldly challenged his oppo 
nents to produce any evidence in support of their claim. 
" Let them tell us," he says, " where, when, by what coun 
cil or pope such a change was made," and adds : " The 
contrary seems to be evident from the Tridentine Coun 
cil, 38 which declares that Christ gave His Church the 
power to ordain or change whatsoever she may judge ex 
pedient in the dispensation of the Sacraments, their sub 
stance remaining untouched; a change of matter and 
form would touch, not the rite and dispensation, but the 
substance." 3D Well-nigh the only reason why some theo 
logians incline to the opposite opinion, is the difference 
existing between the rite of ordination in the Eastern 
and the Western Church. In the Orient, the matter of 
this .Sacrament is the imposition of hands, in the Occident, 

36 Toletus, Comment, in S. Theol., evinci ex Tridentino, ubi dcdarat, 
III, qu. 64, art. 2. a Christo relictam esse Ecclesiae po- 

37 V. supra., p. 103. testatem mutandi quae sacramen- 

38 Sess. XXI, cap. 2. torum dispensationem respiciunt, 

39 Benedict XIV, De Synodo salva illorum substantid; mutatio 
Dioecesana, VIII, 10, 10: " Die ant vero materiae et formae non ad 
enim, ubi, quando, in quo concilia, a ritum et dispensationem, sed ad sub- 
quo pontifice facta sit eiusmodi mu- stantiam pertinet." 

tatio." " Imo oppositum videtur 


the traditio instrument orum. This difference, however, 
as we shall show in our treatise on Holy Orders, does not 
affect the essence of the Sacrament. 40 

b) The determination of matter and form is not equally 
specific in the different Sacraments. In the case of Bap 
tism, for instance, the " ablution," which represents the 
matter, both proximate and remote, of the Sacrament, may 
be carried out in three different ways by immersion, by 
effusion, or by aspersion, while the words constituting the 
form may be pronounced either in Latin or in Greek or 
in the vernacular, and may be indicative or deprecatory. 
The underlying principle may be briefly stated as follows : 
The matter of a Sacrament remains within the sphere of 
its determined species as long as it retains, in the popular 
estimation, its peculiar properties, while the form remains 
specifically unchanged as long as the logical and theological 
sense of the formula is preserved intact. Alterations, ad 
ditions or omissions which do not run counter to this prin 
ciple are to be regarded as merely accidental changes. 
Certain doubtful instances will be treated later in con 
nection with the several Sacraments. It should be 
noted, however, that the validity of a sacramental form 
may also depend on the intention of the minister, who 
has it in his power, either through ignorance or pur 
posely, to corrupt the form. If a mistake is made through 
ignorance, the Sacrament is valid so long as the wrongly 
pronounced formula may be morally held to retain the ob 
jective sense which Christ wished to connect with it. If 
the corruption is intentional, the form retains its specific 
integrity only on condition that its objective sense is not 

40 For a more detailed treatment Franzelin, De Sacram. in Gen., thes. 
consult De Augustinis, De Re Sa- 5; G. M. Van Rossum, De Essentia 
cram., Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 168 sqq. ; Sacramenti Ordinis, Rome 1914. 


essentially altered or the intention to do what the Church 
wishes to do is not positively excluded. Should the min 
ister of a Sacrament be led by a desire for novelty pur 
posely to render the meaning of a prescribed form am 
biguous, or heretically to exclude the right intention, it is 
evident that he desires to employ another form than that 
instituted by Christ, and the Sacrament consequently be 
comes invalid. 

Thesis IV : Though the Church has no right to in 
stitute Sacraments, she possesses the power to insti 
tute sacramentals. 

This proposition may be qualified as " certa." 

Proof. In the three preceding theses we have ex 
plained what the Church cannot do in regard to the 
Sacraments. The present one defines what she can 

There are two kinds of sacramentals: (i) such as ac 
company the administration of the Sacraments (e. g. 
the exorcisms pronounced in Baptism, the use of salt, the 
anointing of the forehead), and (2) such as may be used 
independently of the Sacraments and have a quasi mat 
ter and form of their own (e. g. the different ecclesias 
tical blessings). The former are called sacramental cere 
monies, the latter sacramentals in the strict sense of the 

i. That the Church has power to institute sacramental 
ceremonies or rites, is clear from the following declara 
tion of the Tridentine Council: "If anyone saith that 
the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, 
wont to be used in the solemn administration of the Sac 
raments, may be contemned, or without sin be omitted at 
pleasure by the ministers, or be changed by every pastor 


of the churches into other new ones, let him be anath 
ema." 41 

a) In proof of this dogma the Holy Synod adduces the 
example of St. Paul, who concludes his remarks on the 
Eucharist with these words : " And the rest I will set 
in order, when I come." 42 There is abundant Patristic 
evidence for the antiquity of the sacramental ceremonies 
employed by the Church. Most of those now in use can 
be traced far beyond the ninth century, as a glance at the 
Sacramentary of Gregory the Great and the writings of 
Rhabanus Maurus, Alcuin, and Isidore shows. In the 
early days of Christianity different ceremonies were in 
vogue, as may be gathered from the works of Tertullian. 43 

The theological argument for our thesis rests mainly 
on the fact that the Church possesses legislative power 
to ordain whatever she judges fit to beautify her services 
and promote the salvation of souls. The sacramental cer 
emonies serve both these purposes by giving visible ex 
pression to the ideas that underlie the sacred mysteries 
of religion, and by stimulating, nourishing, and augment 
ing the devotion of the faithful. 44 

b) A word regarding the use of the Latin language in 
the administration of the Sacraments. In the first place, 
no solid argument can be alleged in favor of the vernacu 
lar. Those who are ignorant of Latin lose nothing of the 
sacramental effect, since the Sacraments produce their 

41 Sess. VII, can. 13: " Si quis 42 i Cor. XI, 34: " Cetera, quum 

dixerit, receptos et approbates EC- venero, disponam." 

clesiae catholicae ritus in solemni 43 The argument from tradition is 

sacramentorum administratione ad- copiously developed by Suarez, De 

hiberi consuetos out contemni out Sacram., disp. 15, sect. 3, n. 3. 

sine peccato a ministris pro libito 44 Bellarmine says they are as 

omitti out in novos alias per quern- necessary to religion as salt is to 

cunque ecclesiarum past or em mutari meat. (De Sacram., V, 31). Cfr. 

posse, anathema sit." (Denzinger- Cone. Trident., Sess. XXII, cap. 5 

Bannwart, n. 856). (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 943) ; 

Catech. Rom., P. II, cap. i, n. 18. 


effects ex opere operato, and the meaning of the ac 
companying words can be easily explained to the faithful. 
On the other hand, the substitution of a living tongue for 
Latin would entail very serious inconveniences. Unity of 
worship is intimately bound up with unity of language 
and the adoption of different rituals and liturgies in 
different vernaculars would, externally at least, split up 
the Church into an equal number of national churches. 
Moreover, if the liturgical books were composed in a 
living tongue, it would be necessary to rewrite them from 
time to time, and there would naturally be danger lest 
the doctrine itself should become more and more obscured 
to the detriment of explicit and well-determined faith. 
The use of a dead language obviates all these difficul 
ties. There is another point. If Latin were not the 
language of the Church, the clergy would be exposed 
to the danger of neglecting this important tongue, which 
is the key to the Vulgate and the writings of the Western 
Fathers, and thus more easily become a prey to ignorance 
and intellectual lethargy, which could not but result in 
injury to the Church and religion. 

2. Sacramentals in the strict sense are rites resembling 
those of the sacraments but independent of them, instituted 
by the Church for the supernatural advantage of the 

a) The term itself seems to have been coined by 
Alexander of Hales. 45 Hugh of St. Victor speaks of the 
sacramentals as sacramenta minora in contradistinction 
to the sacramenta maiora s. principalia. St. Thomas re 
fers to them as sacra and again as sacramentalia. 

Sacramentals differ from Sacraments in three essen 
tial respects : 

45 Summa Theol., P. 4, qu. 23, n. 5. 


1 i ) Unlike the Sacraments, the sacramentals were not 
immediately instituted by our Lord, but partly by His 
Apostles (e. g. the sign of the cross) and partly by the 
Church (e. g. the blessing of the baptismal font). 

(2) They do not communicate sanctifying grace, but 
work other inferior though salutary effects. 

(3) They produce these effects not ex op ere operate. 
but ex opere operantis. 

They resemble the Sacraments in this that they ordina 
rily consist of matter and form and produce a spiritual 
effect in the recipient. 

The blessings and exorcisms of the Church have their 
prototype in Christ. 46 The ceremony of washing the feet 
was directly instituted by him, while the other sacramen 
tals derive their justification from the legislative power 
of the Church. Harnack shows a woful lack of under 
standing when he writes : " We must study the theory 
and practice of the benedictions and sacramentals in 
connection with indulgences, in order to see how far the 
Catholic Church has progressed towards Paganism. The 
dogmatic teaching in regard to the benedictio constituted 
and the consecratio, as distinguished from the benedictio 
invocativa, is a veritable insult not only to the Christian 
but to every spiritual religion. ... As the Church by 
the adoption of indulgences, truly, i. e. in praxi, created 
another Sacrament of Penance, so in the sacramentals she 
created new Sacraments more convenient than the old, be 
cause entirely under her control. In both respects she has 
legitimized Rabbinism and the theory and practice of the 
Pharisees and Talmudists." 47 This is absolutely false. If 
the sacramentals were mere remnants of Paganism, Phari- 

46 Cfr. Matth. X, 8, XIV, 19, 47 Dogmengeschichte, Vol. Ill, 

XIX, 15; Mark IX, 37, XVI, 17; 3 rd ed., pp. 604 sq. 
Luke X, 17. 


seeism, and Talmudism, the same would be true of the 
Sacraments, whereas their power rests on the divinity of 
Christ in exactly the same way as that of the sacramentals 
rests on the divinity of the Church. True, Harnack denies 
both these premises; but as a historian he ought in fair 
ness to judge the sacramentals not from the rational 
istic but from the Catholic point of view. Surely it can 
not be affirmed historically that Christ employed a Pagan 
or Talmudic rite when He exorcised demons or when He 
blessed bread and wine before the consecration. Why, 
then, accuse the Church of Paganism w r hen, following the 
example of her Divine Founder, she blesses persons and 
objects, calls down a benediction upon the fields, and pro 
nounces exorcisms against evil spirits ? That indulgences 
take the place of the Sacrament of Penance, and that the 
sacramentals have supplanted the original Sacraments, is 
an utterly gratuitous assertion. An indulgence is merely 
a remission of temporal punishment, whereas in the Sac 
rament of Penance sins are forgiven. The sacramentals 
derive their efficacy from the disposition of the recipient, 
and consequently by no means render superfluous the 
Sacraments, which produce their effects ex opere operato. 
That the spiritual effects of both Sacraments and sacra- 
mentals depend on external signs and symbols, far from 
involving an insult to the Christian religion, responds to 
a normal postulate of human nature, which is a com 
pound of spirit and matter, in which the spiritual must 
be attained by means of the senses. The use of the 
sacramentals remains optional, while to receive certain 
Sacraments is of strict obligation. The only thing that 
is forbidden in connection with the sacramentals is con 
tempt and superstitious use. Educated Catholics may 
not relish all the sacramentals, but they know that the 
Church, as a kindly mother, supplies all reasonable needs 


and demands of her children, even those of the weak 
and simple. In extending her blessings to every province 
of nature, she constantly reminds us that the earth is 
still groaning under the curse of sin and that man s true 
home is not here below. It is a truly magnificent con 
ception that underlies the Catholic doctrine of the sacra- 
mentals. 48 

b) As regards the classification of the sacramentals, 
an attempt has been made to reduce them to six, em 
bodied in the ancient hexameter : 

" Orans, tinctiis, edens, confessus, dans, benedicens." 
Aside from the fact that public prayer (orans), the gen 
eral avowal of faults made in the recitation of the Con- 
fiteor (confessus), and almsgiving (dans) are not sacra- 
mentals in the true sense of the term, it is to be remarked 
that the actual number of sacramentals is by no means 
limited to the other three rites enumerated above, viz.: 
the use of holy water (tinctus), the eating of blessed 
food (edens), and papal, episcopal, and sacerdotal bless 
ings (benedicens). 

Equally inadequate is the sevenfold division of the 
sacramentals indicated in the line: 
" Crux, aqua, nomen, edens, ungens, iurans, benedicens! 

To pronounce the Holy Name of Jesus (nomen) is 
merely an ejaculatory prayer, while the sign of the cross 
(crux), the use of holy water (aqua), the eating of 
blessed food (edens), the use of holy oil (ungens), exor 
cisms (iurans), and ecclesiastical benedictions (benedi 
cens), though true sacramentals, by no means exhaust 
their number. 

48 Cfr. Oswald, Die dogmatische men, 23rd ed., Mainz 1898; A. A. 

Lehre von den hi. Sakramenten, Lambing, The Sacramentals of the 

Vol. I, sth ed., pp. 15 sqq., Miinster Holy Catholic Church, New York 

1894; Gr. Rippel, Die Schonheit der 1892. 
kath. Kirche in ihren hi. Zeremo- 


A more comprehensive division is that made by St. 
Thomas, to which Harnack adverts in the passage quoted 
above. The Angelic Doctor distinguishes consecrations 
(consecratio s. benedictio constitutive,) and benedictions 
(benedictio invocativa). To> this has been added as a 
third species, exorcism (adiuratio daemonum). A con 
secration is a rite by which the Church dedicates a 
person (e. g. an abbot) or an object (e. g. an altar) 
to the service of God. A benediction is an ecclesiastical 
rite by virtue of which some benefit, either spiritual 
or corporal, is applied to a designated person. The ap 
plication may be either immediate (as in the case of the 
papal blessing) or mediate (as in the use of a blessed 
object, such as holy water). The term sacramentals is 
by a well-known figure of speech applied to conse 
crated or blessed objects, though strictly speaking it 
belongs only to the act of consecration or benediction, 
or to the use of consecrated or blessed objects. The ex 
orcisms are partly integral constituents of sacramental 
ceremonies, and partly direct adjurations of the devil, 
or of natural objects with a view to withdraw them 
from the curse of sin and the power of Satan. 49 

c) With regard to the efficacy of the sacramentals 
we must never lose sight of the fundamental principle 
that they neither obliterate mortal sin nor infuse sanc 
tifying grace. If they were capable of working these 
effects, there would be no difference between them and 
the Sacraments. Theologians argue as to whether the 
sacramentals may confer other graces ex opere operate 
(as, for example, the forgiveness of venial sins, the re 
mission of temporal punishments) and not merely through 
the intercession of the Church or the action of the one 

40 Cfr. Rom. VIII, 20 sq.; i Cor. V, 5; Acts XXVI, 18. 


who uses them. Some writers (e. g. Dominicus Soto and 
Bellarmine) do not hesitate to attribute such efficacy to 
the sacramentals, whereas the majority reject the assump 
tion, and justly so, for three reasons: first, because the 
Church is not empowered to institute efficacious signs of 
grace; second, because the sacramentals do not produce 
their effects infallibly; and third, because the Church in 
her rites makes use, not of affirmative, but of deprecatory 
expressions, which shows that she looks to the divine 
mercy for the effect. Hence the sacramentals derive 
their efficacy entirely ex opere operantis. 50 This efficacy 
is nevertheless very special in that it owes its power 
not to the opus operans (i. e. the pious acts) of the faith 
ful alone, but also to the opus operans (i. e. the inter 
cession) of the Church. If this were not so, it might 
make no difference whether a Catholic would sprinkle 
himself with holy water or with ordinary water, 
because in both cases his piety and devotion might 
be the same, and there would be no other source of 
efficacy. The purely deprecative character of the sac 
ramentals is also revealed by the fact that any priest, 
regardless of his personal worthiness, can validly bless 
and consecrate; it is the Church that blesses and con 
secrates through him. This explains the theory of 
some theologians that the operation of the sacramentals 
lies midway between the opus operatum and the opus 
operans, in regard to which theory it may be well to 
remark that the opus operatum is simply the opus 
operans of the Church. These considerations afford a 
standard for measuring the mode and extent of the effects 
wrought by the sacramentals. Aside from the personal 
devotion of the user there can be no effects other than 

50 Cfr. St. Thomas, Sum ma Theol., 3a, qu. 83, art. 3, ad 3. 


those for which the Church prays and which are deducible 
from her official formularies. 

d) The fruits or effects of the sacramentals may be 
similarly divided into three categories. Consecration 
(benedictio constitutive!) results in the effective with 
drawal from profane use of the person or thing upon 
which it is bestowed, and its dedication to the purpose 
of divine worship (e. g., the tonsure, minor orders, the 
blessing of oil, the dedication of a church, an altar, a 
vestment). Benediction (benedictio invocativa) has four 
distinct effects: forgiveness of venial sins, remission of 
temporal punishments, bestowal of actual graces and of 
material benefits. The forgiveness of sins resulting from 
the use of sacramentals is ascribed by St. Thomas to an 
implied act of contrition. 51 The remission of temporal 
punishments due to sin requires something more, viz.: an 
ardent love of God elicited during the use of the sacra- 
mentals. 52 There is only one exception to this rule, viz.: 
when indulgences are attached to the use of blessed objects 
(e. g. rosaries, medals), because an indulgence is a re 
mission of temporal punishments by virtue of the power of 
the keys entrusted by Christ to His Church. The bestowal 
of actual graces in connection with sacramentals depends 
partly on the subjective devotion and receptivity of the 
faithful, partly on the effective intercession of the Church. 
Lastly, the sacramentals may also bring down upon their 
users material benefits (blessing of bread, dwellings, fields, 
etc.), provided, of course, that the benefits asked for by the 

51 Summa Theol., 33, qu. 87, art. quia sic qui esset omnino immunis a 
3, ad i: ". . . inquantum inclinant peccato mortali, aspersus aqua 
[sacramentalia] animam ad motum benedicta statim evolaret [ad 
poenitentiae, qui est detestatio pec- caelum]; sed reatus poenae remit- 
catorum vel implicite vel explicite." titur per praedicta secundum motum 

52 St. Thomas, /. c., ad 3: " Non fervoris in Deum, qui per praedicta 
autem per quodlibet praedictorum excitatur quandoque magis, quan- 
scmper tollitur totus reatus poenae, doque autem minus." 


Church do not conflict with the divine economy of grace 
or the salvation of souls. The effect of exorcisms (ad- 
iuratio daemonum) consists solely in a moral power en 
abling man to overcome the attacks and temptations of the 
devil and to weaken or frustrate his assaults. 

READINGS : *St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 33, qu. 64, art. 
1-4. Bellarmine, De Sacramentis, I, 23. *De Lugo, De Sacra 
mentis, disp. 7, sect. 1-2. Franzelin, De Sacramentis in Genere, 
thes. 14, Rome 1888. De Augustinis, De Re Sacramentaria, t. I, 
2nd ed., pp. 125 sqq., Rome 1889. W. Humphrey, S.J., The One 
Mediator, or Sacrifice and Sacraments, London 1890. P. Schanz, 
Die Lehre von den Sakramenten der kath. Kirche, 8, Freiburg 
1893. >Tepe, Instit. Theologicae, Vol. IV, pp. 19 sqq., Paris 1896. 

On the sacramentals cfr. Probst, Kirchliche Benediktionen und 
ihre Verwaltung, Tubingen 1857. IDEM, Sakramente und Sakra- 
mentalien in den drei ersten christlichen Jahrhunderten, Tubingen 
1872. G. M. Schuler, Die kirchlichen Sakramentalien, Bamberg 
iS6y. *P. Schanz, Die Wirksamkeit der Sakramentalien, in the 
Theol. Quart alschrift, Tubingen 1886, pp. 548 sqq. *Fr. Schmid, 
Die Sakramentalien der kath. Kirche in ihrer Eigenart beleuchtet, 
Brixen 1896. *Arendt, S.J., De Sacramentalibus Disquisitio 
Scholastico-Dogmatica, 2nd ed., Rome 1900. Heinrich-Gutberlet, 
Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. IX, 481, Mainz 1901. Ad. Franz, 
Die kirchlichen Benediktionen im Mittelalter, 2 vols., Freiburg 
1909. A. A. Lambing, The Sacramentals of the Holy Catholic 
Church, New York 1892. H. Leclercq, O.S.B., art. "Sacramen 
tals," in the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIII. 



We have now to explain the efficacy of the 
Sacraments and the manner in which they pro 
duce their effects. 

As we have seen, the Sacraments produce in 
ternal grace. 1 The question now arises whether 
they cause this effect ex opere operate, i. e. by the 
work performed, independently of the merits of 
minister and recipient, and if so, whether they are 
to be regarded as the physical or as the moral 
causes of the grace they confer. 

The first question involves an article of faith, 
the second merely a free opinion, on which theo 
logians may and do differ. 

i V. Ch. II, Sect. 2, supra. 




The Protestant Reformers regarded the Sac 
raments merely as "exhortations designed to ex 
cite faith" (Luther) or as "tokens of the truth 
fulness of the divine promises" (Calvin) or as 
"mere signs of Christian profession by which the 
faithful testify that they belong to the Church 
of Jesus Christ" (Zwingli and the Socinians). 
The Council of Trent condemned these erroneous 
opinions and solemnly defined that the Sacra 
ments are means of grace, which produce the 
grace they "contain" ex opere operate in all those 
who do not place an obstacle. 

a) The sacramental system of the Reformers flowed 
quite logically from their false idea of justification. If 
justification really consisted in a merely extrinsic appli 
cation of the merits of Jesus Christ, which cover the sin 
ner and hide his wickedness from the sight of God, and 
if faith were the only thing whereby man is justified, 2 

2 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual and Habitual, pp. 285 sqq., St. Louis 



it would be perfectly proper to regard the Sacraments 
in the sense of Luther as a kind of acted sermons 
calculated to sustain the faith (signa paraenetica or con- 
cionatoria). Quite consistently, therefore, did the Augs 
burg Confession " condemn those who hold that the Sac 
raments work justification ex opere operate." 3 

Calvin, in keeping with his theory of " absolute 
predestination," declared that " the Sacraments are given 
to us by God as bearers of good tidings are sent by men," 
and that they merely announce and declare the gifts we 
owe to the liberality of God, or at most are pledges calcu 
lated to make us sure of these gifts. 4 

Zwingli was even more radical. He taught that the 
Sacraments are merely discriminating labels of Christian 
profession, separating the followers of Christ from un 
believers. " It would be difficult to go any further," 
rightly observes Pourrat, " and to lower still more the 
value of the Sacraments of the New Law." 5 Zwingli s 
conception of the Sacraments was later adopted by the 
Socinians. 6 

b) Against these heretical errors the Council of Trent 
insisted on the objective efficacy of the Sacraments, de 
claring that the subjective activity of the recipient is 
merely dispositive in character, and defining the causality 
of the Sacraments as a true e/ficacia ex opere operate. 

3 Art. 13, quoted in Miiller, Die 5 Pourrat, Theology of the Sacra- 
symbolischen Biicher, p. 42: "Dam- vnents, p. 181. 

nant illos qui docent, quod sacra- 6 On the development of the doc- 

tnenta ex opere operate iustificant." trine among Protestants see Herzog s 

On the changes in Luther s teach- Realenzyklopadie, Vol. XVII, 3rd 

ing see Pesch, Praelect. Dog-mat., ed., pp. 369 sqq., Leipzig 1906 (con- 

Vol. VI, 3rd ed., p. 46. densed in The New Schaff-Hersog 

4 Calvin, Instit., IV, 14, 12: Encyclopedia of Religious Knowl- 
" Hoc unicum est sacramentorum edge, Vol. X, pp. 143 sq., New 
officium, ut Dei promissiones oculis York 1911). 

nostris spcctandas subiiciant et 
earum nobis sint pignora." 


"If any one saith that the Sacraments of the New Law 
do not contain the grace which they signify ; or that 
they do not confer that grace on those who do not place 
an obstacle thereunto; as though they were merely out 
ward signs of grace or justice received through faith, 
and certain marks of the Christian profession, whereby 
believers are distinguished among men from unbelievers, 
let him be anathema." 7 Therefore, the Sacraments are 
more than signs instituted for the purpose of nourishing 
the faith. 8 They infallibly confer grace, not only on the 
predestined, but on " all who receive them rightly." 9 
Their efficacy is ex opere operate, i. e. derived from the ob 
jective value of the rite itself, not from the merits of 
minister or subject. 10 

EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED. It is an article of 
faith, as we have seen, that the Sacraments of 
the New Law produce their effects ex opere 
operato; whence it may be concluded that the 

7 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. 7: "Si quis dixerit, non dari 
6: "Si quis dixerit, sacramenta gratiam per huiusmodi sacr amenta 
Novae Legis non continere gratiam semper et omnibus, quantum est ex 
quam significant out gratiam ipsam parte Dei, etiamsi rite ea suscipiant, 
non ponentibus obicem [i. e. dis- sed aliquando et aliquibus, ana- 
positis~\ non conferre, quasi signa thema sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, 
tantum externa sint acceptae per n. 850). 

fidem gratiae et iustitiae et notae 10 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. 

quaedam christianae professions, 8: " Si quis dixerit, per ipsa Novae 

quibus apud homines discernuntur Legis sacramenta ex opere operato 

fideles ab infidelibus, anathema sit." non conferri gratiam, sed solam 

(Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 849). fidem divinae promissionis ad gra- 

8 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. tiam consequendam sufficere, ana- 
Si "Si quis dixerit, haec sacra- thema sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, 
menta propter solam fidem nutrien- n. 851). On the topic of this sub- 
daw instituta fuisse, anathema sit." division cfr. Bellarmine, De Sacra- 
(Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 848). mentis in Genere, I, 13-17. 

Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. 


formulas employed in their administration are not 
merely exhortatory, but consecratory. It is also 
of faith that, in order to receive the Sacraments 
unto justification, the sinner must receive them 
"rightly," that is, with the proper disposition. 
We shall set forth this teaching in three distinct 

Thesis I: The Sacraments are really and truly 
efficient causes, producing their effects ex opere 
operate, independently of the merits and disposition of 
the recipient. 

This proposition is de fide. 

Proof. The Council of Trent defines the 
efficacy of the Sacraments both negatively and 
positively: negatively, by pointing out that they 
are not merely outward signs instituted for the 
sake of nourishing the faith, or marks of Chris 
tian profession ; positively, by declaring that they 
"contain the grace which they signify" and con 
fer it "in virtue of the act performed" (ex opere 

To say that the Sacraments produce their effects inde 
pendently of the disposition of the recipient, does not 
mean that they require no moral preparation on his part. 
On the contrary, we know that such preparation is neces 
sary to enable the Sacraments to produce the full effect 
required for justification. 11 According to the Tridentine 
Council, this necessary preparation consists in " not plac- 

11 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual and Habitual, pp. 285 sqq. 


ing an obstacle to grace," i. e. in removing any previous 
indisposition opposed to the character of the respective 

( i ) That the performance of the sacramental 
rite not merely signifies but actually produces 
grace, can be shown from both Scripture and 

a) Sacred Scripture again and again points to 
the causal relation existing between the sacra 
mental sign and grace. Cf r. John III, 5 : "Un 
less a man be born again of water and the Holy 
Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of 
God." 12 An analysis of this text shows that St. 
John ascribes spiritual rebirth (i. e. justification) 
to the element of Baptism as its instrumental 
cause ; for the particle "ex" refers not only to the 
Holy Ghost, but likewise to the water : "ex aqua 
et Spiritu Sancto" As truly, therefore, as the 
spiritual rebirth of a man is caused principally 
by the Holy Ghost, so is it caused instrumentally 
by the water, and consequently, the water of 
Baptism exercises a causal influence on justifica 
tion. In confirmation we may quote Tit. Ill, 5 : 
"He saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and 
renovation of the Holy Ghost." 13 The very ex 
pression "laver of regeneration" proves the sac- 

12 loa. Ill, 5: " Nisi quis renatus 13 Tit. Ill, 5: " Salvos nos fecit 

fuerit ex aqua et Spiritu Sancto, per lavacrum regenerations et 
non potest introire in regnum Dei." renovationis Spiritus Sancti." 


ramental efficacy of the baptismal water, and still 
more the phrasing of the passage : "He saved us 
by the laver of regeneration." 

In other Biblical texts the ablative of instru 
ment is used to denote the same fact. Cf r. Eph. 
V, 26 : ". . . cleansing it, by the laver of water 
in the word of life/ 14 where the Apostle evi 
dently means that a bath of water in the word 
of life possesses the power of cleansing the inte 
rior man, i. e. justifying him. Cfr. Acts XXII, 
16: "Be baptized, and wash away thy sins." 15 
When a physician orders a patient to take a medi 
cinal bath, that he may be cured of disease, the 
bath becomes a means of regaining health. If 
Baptism, therefore, effects the forgiveness of 
sins, the former is related to the latter as a cause 
to its effect. Cfr. Acts II, 38: ". . . be bap 
tized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, 
for the remission of your sins." 1G Note that 
those to whom these words were addressed by St. 
Peter, had already embraced the faith and were 
sorry for their sins. 17 

A similar argument can be construed for the 
other Sacraments Confirmation, Acts VIII, 17; 
the Holy Eucharist, John VI, 57 sqq. ; Penance, 

14 Eph. V, 26: " Mundans lava- 16 Ibid., II, 38: " Baptisetur 
cro aquae (TW Xourpw rov vdaros) ttnusquisque vestrum in nomine 
in verbo vitae." lesu Christi in remissionem pecca- 

15 Act. XXII, 16: " Baptisare et torum vestrorum." 
ablue peccata tua." IT Cfr. Acts II, 37. 


John XX, 22 sq. ; Extreme Unction, James V, 14 
sq. ; Holy Orders, 2 Tim. I, 6. 18 

The Scriptural texts cited by Protestants to show the 
part faith takes in the process of justification are in no 
wise incompatible with the efficacy of the Sacraments ex 
opere operate. A careful analysis of these texts shows 
that they apply either to objective belief, i. e. the doc 
trine of Christ (the Gospel) 19 or to subjective faith, 
i. e. belief in the word of God. 20 In the first-mentioned 
case faith, i. e. the object of faith, justifies in so far as 
divine revelation puts at man s disposal all the means of 
justification, including the Sacraments. 21 In regard to 
texts that fall under the latter category it must be re 
marked that the subjective faith of justification is either 
formata or Informix, i. e. a faith vivified by perfect 
charity or not vivified at all, and therefore dead. 
The fides formata justifies of itself, while the fides 
informis remains inefficacious until it has absorbed 
the remaining dispositive acts and achieved its consum 
mation in the Sacrament. 22 In both cases we are dealing 
with a true causality of faith in the matter of justification, 
though this causality is of a different order than that of 
the Sacraments. Faith, as such, is merely a dispositive 
cause of justification, part of its causa materialis, 
whereas a Sacrament is a true efficient cause, though, of 
course, dependent for its efficacy on the disposition of 
the recipient, as upon a condition, because " wet wood can 
not catch fire." 23 

18 For more detailed information 21 Cfr. Matth. XVI, 16 sq. 

on this point we refer the reader 22 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Ac- 

to the special treatises on the differ- tual and Habitual, pp. 298 sq. 

ent Sacraments. 23 That the fiduciary faith of the 

19 Cfr. Rom. I, 16; i Cor. XV, i Lutherans does not justify, but is an 
sq.; i Pet. I, 23 sqq.; Jas. I, 18. unscriptural figment, has been dem- 

20 Cfr. Heb. XI, 6. onstrated in our treatise on Grace, 


b) The Fathers are clear and positive in their 
teaching on the efficacy of the Sacraments. 
Their expressions concerning Baptism, which are 
characteristic of their whole attitude on the sub 
ject, may be grouped around several fundamental 

The Fathers are filled with admiration at the power of 
the water which, in the Sacrament of Baptism, produces 
interior holiness. " Is it not wonderful," says Tertullian, 
" that death should be washed away by bathing? But it 
is the more to be believed if the wonderfulness be the 
reason it is not believed. For of what kind does it 
behoove divine works to be, except that they be 
above all wonder? We also ourselves wonder, but it is 
because we believe." 24 St. Cyril of Jerusalem says in an 
address to his neophytes : " Each one of you was asked 
whether he believes in the name of the Father and of 
the Son and of the Holy Ghost. You have pronounced 
the salutary profession, you have been thrice immersed in 
the water, thereby symbolizing Christ s stay of 
three days in the tomb. For just as our Saviour spent 
three days and three nights in the bowels of the earth, 
so you, in emerging the first time from the water, have 
imitated the first day, and in being immersed, the night 
which Christ spent in the earth, . . . and at the same 
moment you died and were born again ; that salutary 

pp. 286 sqq. For a more detailed 24 De Bapt., c. 2: " Nonne mi- 

treatment we must refer the student randum est, lavacro dilui mortem? 

to Franzelin, De Sacramcntis in Ge- Atqui eo magis credendum, si quia 

nere, thes. 8. Other objections from mirandum est, idcirco non creditor. 

Holy Scripture are effectively re- Qualia enim decet esse opera divina 

futed by De Augustinis, De Re Sa- nisi super omnem admirationemt 

cramentaria, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 84 Nos quoque ipsi miramur, sed quia 

sqq. credimus." 


wave became alike your grave and your mother . . . O 
new and unheard-of species of things ! " 25 

The power thus inherent in the baptismal laver is a 
truly divine power unto justification. " You have seen 
water/ says Pseudo-Ambrose, " but not all water heals ; 
that water heals which has the grace of Christ. The 
element is one thing, the consecration another; the work 
is one thing, the operation another. The work is the 
water, the operation is of the Holy Ghost. The water 
does not heal unless the Spirit descends and consecrates 
it." 26 Similarly Cyril of Alexandria : " As water 
poured into a kettle, if exposed to intense heat, absorbs 
the power thereof, so the material water, through the oper 
ation of the [Holy] Spirit, is changed into a divine, un 
speakable virtue and sanctifies all on whom it is found." 27 

The influence of the baptismal water is compared to 
that of the maternal womb. Thus St. Chrysostom says : 
" What the womb is for the child, that is water for the 
faithful Christian; for in water he is shaped and formed. 
In the beginning it was said (Gen. I, 20) : Let the wa 
ters bring forth the creeping creature having life. But 
since the Lord descended into the Jordan, the water no 
longer brings forth creeping creatures, but rational souls 
that bear within themselves the Holy Ghost. . . . What is 
formed in the womb, requires time. Not so in the water : 
there everything happens in an instant." 28 St. Leo the 
Great compares the baptismal font to the virginal womb 
of Mary: " The origin which [Christ] took in the womb 

25 Cat. Myst., 2, c. 4. tus Sancti est. Non sanat aqua, nisi 

26 De Sacrament., I, 5: " Vidisti Spiritus descenderit et aquam illam 
aquam, sed non aqua omnis sanat; consecraverit." 

sed aqua sanat quae habet gratiam 27 In loa., 1. II (Migne, P. G., 

Christi. Aliud est elementum, aliud LXXIII, 243). 

consecratio; aliud opus, aliud opera- 28 Horn, in loa., 6, n. i (Migne, 

tio. Aqua opus est, operatio Spiri- P. G., LIX, 153). 


of the Virgin, He placed in the font of Baptism. He gave 
to the water what He had given to His mother. For the 
virtue of the Most High and the overshadowing of the 
Holy Spirit, which caused Mary to bring forth the 
Saviour, also causes the water to regenerate the believ 
ing [Christian]." 29 

The efficacy of Baptism does not depend on the personal 
merits of the recipient. St. Augustine says : " Baptism 
does not consist in the merits of those by whom it is ad 
ministered, nor in the merits of those to whom it is ad 
ministered, but in its own sanctity and truth, on account 
of Him by whom it has been instituted, [it is] for the 
perdition of those who use it badly and for the salvation 
of those who use it well." 30 Tertullian attributes a 
like efficacy to all the Sacraments. " The flesh is 
washed off," he says, " in order that the soul may be 
cleansed ; the flesh is anointed, in order that the soul may 
be consecrated ; the flesh is signed, in order that the soul 
may be fortified ; the flesh is overshadowed by the impo 
sition of hands, in order that the soul may be illuminated 
by the Holy Spirit; the flesh is fed with the body and 
blood of Christ, in order that the soul may be nourished 
by God." 31 

29 Serm. in Nativ. Dom., 5, c. 5: eum, a quo institutus est, male uten- 
" Originem quam sumpsit [Christus] tibus ad pcrniciem, bene utcntibus 
in utero virginis, posuit in fonte bap- ad salutem." 

tismatis. Dedit aquae quod dcdit 31 De Resurrect. Cam., c. 8: 

matri. Virtus enim Altissimi et " Caro abluitur ut anima emaculetur, 

obumbratio Spiritus Sancti, quae caro ungitur ut anima consecretur, 

fecit ut Maria pareret Salvatorem, caro signatur ut anima muniatur, 

eadem facit ut regeneret undo ere- caro manus impositione adumbra- 

dcntem." tur ut et anima Spiritu illuminetur, 

30 Contr. Crescon., IV, 16, 19: caro corpore Christi et sanguine 
" Non eorum meritis, a quibus mi- vescitur ut anima de Deo saginetur." 
nistratur, nee eorum quibus mini- Cfr. Franzelin, De Sacram. in Ge- 
stratur, constat baptismus, sed pro- nere, thes. 6; Bellarmine, De Sa- 
pria sanctitate et veritate propter cram., II, 5-7. 


c) The theological argument for our thesis is 
based partly on the practice of infant Baptism 
and partly on the fact that the Protestant doc 
trine entails absurd consequences. 

a) If infant Baptism (paedobaptismns) blots out orig 
inal sin by the infusion of sanctifying grace, this cannot 
be except on the supposition that Baptism produces its 
effects without regard to human merits. Hence the prac 
tice of infant Baptism furnishes an argument for the effi 
cacy of the Sacraments ex opere operate. And since in 
the primitive Church Baptism was immediately followed 
by Confirmation and Communion, the administration of 
these two Sacraments to infants is likewise an argument 
to the same effect. That the belief in such efficacy of 
the Sacraments can be traced back to the Apostolic 
age, is plain from the statement of Origen 32 that infant 
Baptism was practiced at that time. The cogency 
of this inference is admitted by Harnack, who says that 
a " superstitious idea of Baptism " is found already in 
Tertullian 33 and Irenaeus, 34 and adds : " This appears 
also from the practice of infant Communion, which, 
though first attested by Cyprian, can hardly be of later 
origin than infant Baptism. Communion seemed equally 
indispensable with Baptism, and the child had just as 
much right to that magic celestial food as the adult." 35 
This is a plain admission that the Catholic view of the 
efficacy of the Sacraments, as defined by the Tridentine 
Council, goes back to the first centuries of the Christian 
era, which is sufficient evidence that it is true. 

) That the Lutheran system of justification cannot 

82 In Epist. ad Rom., 5, 9. 35 Harnack Lehrbuch der Dog- 

33 De Bapt., c. 18. mengeschichte, Vol. I, 3rd ed., p. 

34 Adv. Haer., II, 22, 4. 438. 


consistently admit any Sacraments in the Catholic sense 
of the term, is convincingly demonstrated by the same 
Rationalist theologian : " Luther not only did away with 
the septenary number of the Sacraments, that is the 
least thing he did, but he upset the entire Catholic 
idea of the Sacraments by triumphantly demonstrating 
these three propositions: (i) that the Sacraments were 
instituted for the forgiveness of sins, and for no other 
purpose; (2) that non implentur dum Hunt, sed dum 
creduntur; (3) that they are a peculiar form of the 
saving Word of God (of the promissio Dei fulfilling 
itself), and consequently derive their power from the 
historic Christ. Carrying this teaching to its logical 
conclusions, Luther reduced the Sacraments to two 
(three), nay, at bottom to one, viz.: the Word of God." 3G 
The question naturally suggests itself : If this is so, 
why do Protestants baptize their children? What is the 
use of Sacraments if they are so immensely inferior 
to preaching and have no reasonable purpose except per 
haps to serve as an object-lesson for the ignorant? They 
do not even serve that purpose well. " According to 
this view/ says Gutberlet, " the baptismal rite would 
most effectively fulfil its purpose of awaking the faith, 
if the preacher proclaimed the divine promise from 
the pulpit, while the sacristan ostentatiously washed each 
single baptizandus with as large a quantity of water as 
possible. The congregation would thus receive a more 
vivid impression of the purification signified by Baptism 
than if each person submitted to the operation himself. 
At all events it would not be necessary for each indi 
vidual to be baptized. The public Baptism of one would 
lead hundreds and thousands to believe and be justified. 

30 Op. cit., Vol. Ill, 3rd ed., p. 72. 


Such absurd conclusions are entailed by a denial of the 
objective efficacy of the Sacraments, a truth so clearly 
taught in Holy Scripture." 37 

If the " orthodox " Lutherans nevertheless persist in 
holding that sins are remitted in infant Baptism (though 
only in the sense of a mere covering up of the soul and 
hiding its wickedness from the sight of God), we can not 
but conclude that at heart they believe in the efficacy of 
Baptism ex opere operato, which Luther so vigorously 

We must now more fully explain the meaning of the 
technical phrase ex opere operato. 

(2) The traditional teaching of the Church re 
garding the efficacy of the Sacraments was, at 
the beginning of the thirteenth century, couched 
in the technical formula: "Sacramenta operan- 
tur ex opere operato" which was later on officially 
adopted by the Council of Trent. 

a) So far as we know the phrase occurs for the first 
time in the writings of Peter of Poitiers (d. 1204), who 
says : " The act of baptizing is not identical with Bap 
tism, because it is an opus operans, while Baptism is an 
opus operatum." 38 It was adopted by Pope Innocent 
III, 39 William of Auxerre, 40 Alexander of Hales, 41 Albert 
the Great, 42 and St. Bonaventure, 43 but was not yet in 
general use when St. Thomas wrote his commentary on 

37 Dogmat. Theol., Vol. IV, p. 95. 41 Summa Theol., 4&, qv. 3 n. 

38 Sent., P. 5, c. 6: " Baptizatio 4, art. i. 

. . . est aliud opus quam baptismus, 42 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 

quia est opus operans, sed baptis- i, art. 5. 

mus est opus operatum." 43 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. i, 

39 De Myst. Missae, III, 5. p. i, art. i, qu. 5. 

40 Summa Aurea, 1. IV, art. 2. 


the Liber Sententiarum, for the Angelic Doctor says: 
" By some the sacrament itself is called opus opera- 
turn! 44 

The grammatical opposition between opus operans and 
opus operatum shows that in the former phrase operari is 
used actively, in the latter passively. The use of the past 
participle of a deponent verb in a passive sense is often met 
with in conversational Latin and in the more elaborate 
writings of classical authors, and hence there is no need 
to seek for a different explanation, as Mohler did when he 
suggested : <f ex opere operato, scilicet a Christo, instead of 
quod operatus est Christus." 45 Needless to say, the 
theological sense of the formula is not to be deduced from 
grammatical considerations but from the decrees of Trent. 
The Tridentine Fathers wished to oppose the objective 
character of the Sacraments as effective means of grace, 
to the subjectivism of the Reformers, and with this 
purpose in view defined the Catholic teaching as follows : 
" If any one saith that by the said Sacraments of the 
New Law grace is not conferred ex opere operato, but 
that faith alone in the divine promises [opus operantis 
s. recipients] suffices for the obtaining of grace, let him 
be anathema." 4G The meaning of the formula ex opere 
operato, therefore, is plainly this : ( I ) that it is the correct 
use of the sign instituted by Christ which confers the grace 
of justification; (2) that the grace conferred is not de 
rived from the merits of either the minister or the 
recipient {ex opere operantis}, though both the free 
action of the former and the moral preparation of the 
latter (if he be an adult) are required for the validity 

44 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. i, 8: "Si quis dixerit, per ipsa Novae 
art. 4: " Ipsum sacramentum did- Lcgis sacramenta ex opere operato 
tur a quibusdam opus operatum." non conferri gratiam, sed solam 

45 Symbolism, 28. fidem [e.v opere operantis] . . . 
40 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. sufhcere, anathema sit." 


and worthy reception of the Sacrament. To emphasize 
the last-mentioned requisite the Council adds that 
the Sacraments " confer grace on those who do not 
place an obstacle thereunto," and again : " As far as 
God s part is concerned, grace is ... given through the 
. . . Sacraments always and to all men." 47 The free 
action of the minister is required, because without his 
combining matter and form with the corresponding in 
tention (opus operans), there can be no opus operatum. 
On the other hand, the Sacrament is frustrated in its 
effects if the subject " places an obstacle " (obex gratiae) 
by not having the right disposition. On this point the 
teaching of the Council regarding justification 48 applies 
in full force. It is as necessary to prepare for the 
worthy reception of a Sacrament as it is to prepare for 
justification. 49 

b) This explanation is sufficient to disprove both the 
intentional and unintentional misunderstandings of the 
formula ex opere operate found in many Protestant con 
troversial works, beginning with the Augsburg Confes 
sion. 50 The oft-repeated accusation, invented by Calvin 
and Chemnitz, that Catholics attribute " a magic effect " 
to the Sacraments, is based on the mistaken assumption 
that the Church requires neither faith nor a good impulse 
of the heart for their worthy reception even in the case 
of lay adults. One expects " a magic effect " only from 

47 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. totum populum scholasticorum doc- 
6: ". . . sacr amenta conferre gra- torum qui docent quod sacramenta 
tiam non ponentibus obicem." non ponenti obicem conferant gra- 
Can. 7: "... dari gratiam per tiam ex opere operate sine bono 
sacramenta semper et omnibus, motu utentis. Haec simpliciter 
quantum est ex parte Dei." iudaica opinio est sentire, quod per 

48 Sess. VI, can. 6-7. caeremoniam iustificemur sine bono 

49 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Ac- motu cordis, hoc est, sine fide." 
tual and Habitual, pp. 272 sqq. (Muller, Die symbol. Biicher, p. 

50 Art. 13, n. 18: " Damnamus 204). 


an inadequate natural agent or from the devil. Why 
should we look to the baptismal water for magical effects, 
since we attribute the regeneration of the soul principally 
to the Holy Ghost? The charge, made in the Augs 
burg Confession, that the Scholastics believed that the 
Sacraments confer grace sine bono motu cordis et sine 
fide, is no longer upheld in such a sweeping form by 
Protestant controversialists, though they still insist that the 
Schoolmen, from Scotus to Gabriel Biel, regarded every 
good impulse of the heart as superfluous, until Cropper 
and Bellarmine, pressed by the Reformers, laid greater 
stress upon the moral cooperation of the recipient. The 
simple truth is that the Scholastics, in treating of the Sac 
raments, assumed the Catholic teaching on justification to 
be well known, and by no means neglected to insist on the 
need of a proper preparation. The very passages adduced 
by our opponents from Scotus and Biel, though badly mu 
tilated, clear these writers of the charge made against 
them. Scotus, in teaching that " a Sacrament of the New 
Law confers grace by virtue of the act performed (ex 
virtute operis operati), so that there is not required a good 
impulse of the heart which would merit grace, but it is 
sufficient that the recipient place no obstacle," 51 clearly 
presupposes not only a proper disposition, 52 but the re 
moval of obstacles, i. e. due preparation on the part of 
the recipient. What the " Subtle Doctor " denies is sim 
ply and solely that it is by the bonus motus required for 
the worthy reception of a Sacrament that man merits the 
grace of justification. This is also the plain teaching of 

51 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. gratiam, sed sufRcit quod suscipiens 
i, qu. 6, n. 10: " Sacr amentum non ponat obicem." 
Novae Legis ex virtule operis operati 52 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 

confert gratiam, ita quod non requi- i, qu. 4: "... aliqualem displi- 
ritur ibi bonus motus qui mereatur centiam de peccatis et propositum 

cavendi de cetera." 


Gabriel Biel. 53 The Protestant objection against the 
Schoolmen really strikes at Luther s doctrine that justifi 
cation is wrought by faith alone. There can surely be 
no worse preparation for justification than to follow the 
advice : " Pecca fortiter, crede fortius." 54 

Thesis II : Since the Sacraments produce their ef 
fects ex opere operate, the words which constitute 
their " form " have not merely the value of an exhor 
tation but are in a true sense consecratory. 

This proposition embodies a theological con 

Proof. Whereas in the Lutheran theory of 
justification the sacramental form is a mere ver- 
bum concionale, i. e. purely an exhortation, Catho 
lics regard it as a verbum consecratorium, i. e. as 
sanctifying. The Tridentine Council declares: 
"If anyone saith that these Sacraments were in 
stituted for the sake of nourishing faith alone, let 
him be anathema." And : "If anyone saith that 
the Sacraments of the New Law do not contain 
the grace which they signify, or that they do not 
confer that grace on those who do not place an 
obstacle thereunto, as though they were merely 
outward signs of grace or justice received 

53 For a defense of Biel see Hire Methoden, Grundsatze und 
Bellarmine, De Sacram., II, i, and Aufgaben, 2nd ed., pp. 135 sqq., 
Franzelin, De Sacram. in Gen., thes. Cologne 1902 (English tr., New 
7. York 1914); A. Seitz, Die Heils- 

54 Cfr. Schanz, Die Lehre von notwendigkeit der Kirche nach der 
den hi. Sakramenten, pp. 131 sqq., altchristlichen Literatur bis zur Zeit 
Freiburg 1893; Heinrich-Gutberlet, des hi. Augustinus, pp. 267 sqq., 
Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. IV, Freiburg 1903. 

487; J, Mausbach, Die kath. Moral, 


through faith, and certain marks of the Christian 
profession, whereby believers are distinguished 
among men from unbelievers; let him be an 
athema." 55 

Of course the Catholic Church does not exclude the 
exhortatory element. It is evident from the significant 
ceremonies surrounding their administration, that the 
Sacraments are intended also as means of nourishing the 
faith and as outward pledges of the divine promise of 
forgiveness. But this purpose is secondary. The pri 
mary object of the Sacraments is practical sanctification, 
not theoretical instruction. They are above all signa 
practica et efdcacia gratiae, and only secondarily signa 
theoretics concionalia in the meaning previously ex 
plained. 56 In the light of this explanation it is impos 
sible to accept the Modernist contention that " the Sac 
raments are designed solely to recall to man s memory the 
everlasting and beneficent presence of the Creator." 57 

a) If we consider Baptism and the Holy Eu 
charist, the only two Sacraments which Protes 
tants have retained, we find that the words 
of institution, as spoken by our Divine Saviour, 
do not contain a "sermon of faith" nor a 
"divine promise," but are primarily and prin 
cipally designed to consecrate the natural ele 
ments of water, bread, and wine, in such wise 
that "thing" and "word" become the matter and 
form of an external sign which symbolizes and 
effects internal grace. 58 

65 Sess. VII, can. 5 and 6. 07 Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 2041. 

56 V. supra, p. 14. 68 V. supra, Ch. II, Sect. i. 


If the Sacraments had for their main object to nourish 
the faith or to inspire trust in the divine promises, as 
Protestants assert, it would be more appropriate, in ad 
ministering Baptism, to employ the words : " Unless a 
man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he can^- 
not enter into the kingdom of God," 59 and in giving 
Communion, the text : " He that eateth my flesh, and 
drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life : and I will raise 
him up in the last day." 60 As a matter of fact, if 
these words were employed, there would be no Sacra 
ment, because the divinely instituted form of Baptism 
is : "I baptize thee," etc., whilst that of the Consecration 
runs : " This is my body," etc. Note, also, that St. Paul 
draws a sharp distinction between baptizing and preach 
ing the Gospel : " Christ sent me not to baptize, but to 
preach the gospel." G1 

b) For the teaching of the Fathers, see Thesis 
I, supra. 

Harnack says of Luther: " He showed that even the 
most enlightened among the Fathers had but hazy no 
tions on this, the most important point of all [i. e. that the 
word of God is the only Sacrament]. Augustine has 
much to say about the sacrament, but very little about 
the word, and the Scholastics have made the matter 
still more obscure. Luther attacks both the magic of 
the opus operatum and the disparity of the salutary 
effect of the Sacraments according to the disposition of 
the recipient. . . . He destroys the convenient, yet so 
important notion of vehicles of grace/ and puts into 
the Sacrament the living Christ, who as Christus praedi- 

59 John III, 5. misit me Christus baptizare, sed 

60 John VI, 55. erangelisare." (On St. Paul s 

61 i Cor. I, 17: " Non enim teaching see MacRory s Commen 

tary, Dublin 1915). 


catus subdues the old man and awakes the new." 62 If 
Augustine " says so much about the sacrament and so little 
about the word," as Harnack alleges, how comes it that he 
is constantly quoted in support of the Lutheran theory that 
the sacramental form is purely exhortatory? But even 
here it is a mere straw at which our adversaries grasp. 
St. Augustine teaches : " Now you are clean because of 
the word I have spoken to you/ Why does He [Christ] 
not say : You are clean because of the Baptism by which 
you have been washed? Why does He say: because 
of the word which I have spoken to you, unless it be for 
the reason that the word cleanses also in the water? 
Take away the word, and what is the water but mere 
water? The word is added to the element, and there 
is a sacrament, which itself is as a visible word. Whence 
does this water receive such virtue that it touches the body 
and cleanses the heart, unless through the operation of the 
word, not because it is spoken, but because it is believed. 
For in the very word itself the transient sound is one 
thing, the virtue that remains, another. . . . This word of 
faith has such power in the Church of God that through 
him who believes, offers up, blesses and washes, it cleanses 
even the smallest infant, although as yet unable to believe 
with the heart unto justice and to profess the faith with 
the mouth unto salvation." 63 The very fact that Augus- 

62 Lehrbuch d. Dogmengeschichte, bum ad elementum et fit sacramen- 
Vol. Ill, 3rd ed., p. 72, Freiburg turn etiam ipsum tamquam visibile 
1896. verbum. Unde ista tanta virtus 

63 Tract, in loa., 20, n. 3 : " 7am aquae, ut corpus tangat et cor 
vos mundi estis propter verbum abluat nisi faciente verbo, non quia 
quod locutus sum vobis. Quare dicitur, sed quia crediturf Nam et 
non ait: Mundi estis propter bap- in ipso verbo aliud est sonus tran- 
tismum quo loti estis, sed ait: siens, aliud virtus manens. . . . 
Propter verbum quod locutus sum Hoc verbum fidci tantum valet in 
vobis, nisi quia et in aqua verbum Ecclesia Dei, ut per ipsam creden- 
mundat? Detrahe verbum et quid tern, offerentem, benedicentem, fin 
est aqua nisi aquaf Accedit ver- gent em etiam tantillum mundet in- 


tine attributes to the " word " in conjunction with water 
such a wonderful power to cleanse the heart, even in 
the case of infants who have not yet attained the use 
of reason, shows that he derives the efficacy of Baptism 
from the rite performed (ex opere operate), not from 
the word as preached or from the subjective faith of the 
recipient. Hence, the " word of faith," in the passage 
quoted, is simply the baptismal formula, which, con 
jointly with the material element, constitutes the Sac 
rament, consecrates the materia, and at the same time em 
bodies the " objective faith," i. e. the baptismal symbol. 64 

Thesis III: The efficacy of the Sacraments ex 
opere operate by no means excludes, but rather presup 
poses, a proper diposition on the part of the recipient. 

The proof for this thesis will be found in Ch. 
IV, Sect. 2, infra. Cfr. also Thesis I, supra. 
Regarding the influence which the disposition of 
the recipient exerts on the measure of grace he re 
ceives, see Ch. II, Sect. 2, Art i, Thesis III, supra. 

fantem, quamvis nondum valentem tion consult Franzelin, De Sacram. 

corde credere ad iustitiam et ore in Gen., thes. 9, schol. 2; De Au- 

confiteri ad salutem." gustinis, De Re Sacram., Vol. I, 2nd 

64 For a more exhaustive treat- ed., pp. 163 sqq. 
ment of the argument from Tradi- 



i. STATE OF THE QUESTION. The Sacraments, 
as we have shown, produce their effects ex opere 
operate. But how, in what manner? Is their 
efficacy physical, or purely moral, or both? 

a) A moral cause (causa moralis) is one which, 
through the exercise of some influence operating through 
the intellect or emotions (a command, counsel, request) 
determines a rational being to action. The death of our 
Saviour was such a cause, in so far as it moved God to 
have mercy on humanity. Let it not be objected that 
the effective intercession of one person for another, such 
as that of the crucified Redeemer for us, is a final rather 
than an efficient cause, because it constitutes a true motive 
to attain a desired end. Every moral cause operates be 
cause of its presence (quia est), whereas a final cause 
operates in order that something else may come into 
being (ut sit). The passion and death of Christ being 
the " meritorious cause of justification," x is certainly 
not the physical cause of our salvation ; but, on the other 
hand, it is more than a final cause, and consequently, it is 
the true moral cause of justification. 

A physical cause (causa physica) is one which by its 

i Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, cap. 7. 


action produces an immediate effect, as when a carpenter 
makes a table. 

Both physical and moral causes are either principal 
(causa principals) or instrumental (causa instru- 
mentalis). What a saw is in the hands of a carpenter, 
that, mutatis mutandis, an ambassador is in the hands of 
his government. Carpenter and government are princi 
pal, saw and ambassador instrumental causes. 

A cause, no matter whether physical or moral, prin 
cipal or instrumental, is both really and logically dis 
tinct from a condition. A condition, even though it be 
indispensable (conditio sine qua non), is merely some 
thing that is required in order that something else may 
exist, but it has no part in producing its effects. A cause 
is also distinct from a mere occasion (occasio, causa 
occasionalis) , i. e. a conjunction which facilitates an 
effect, but is not necessary to its production. 2 

b) In applying these metaphysical concepts to 
the Sacraments, we must first of all guard against 
the false notion (unjustly attributed by Dom. 
Soto to Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, 
Duns Scotus, and other Scholastic theologians), 
that the Sacraments are merely a conditio sine 
qua non, or the occasion, of sanctifying grace. 

To say that the Sacraments are merely the condition 
or occasion of the bestowal of sanctifying grace in 
volves a practical denial of the dogma that they produce 
their effects ex opere operate, and destroys the essential 
distinction between the Sacraments of the Old and those 

2 Cfr. John Rickaby, S. J., General Metaphysics, pp. 339 sqq. 
(Stonyhurst Series). 


of the New Law. The principle that the Sacraments 
are true signa efficacia must be so firmly upheld that, if 
it were demonstrated that as moral causes they would 
be no more than mere " conditlones " or " occasiones" 
we should prefer to admit that their efficacy is physical, 
even though this theory involves some difficulties. For 
this reason it is of the greatest importance to prove that 
the sacramental signs are at least true moral causes 
of grace (Thesis I). In the case of some of the 
Sacraments, their moral operation is perhaps supple 
mented by a physical influence. This is true especially of 
the Holy Eucharist. 3 In the case of the other Sacraments 
it is preferable to assume a purely moral causality, as 
weighty arguments can be alleged against the theory of 
physical causation (Thesis II). 

Before discussing this difficult problem it is important 
to establish accurately the state of the question. Assum 
ing, what is self-evident, that the Sacraments as such are 
merely instruments (causae instrumentales) in the hand 
of God, and that God, as their causa principalis, physi 
cally produces sanctifying grace in the soul, the funda 
mental problem at issue may be formulated as follows : 
Does the external sign receive from God a peculiar super 
natural power enabling it physically to produce sanctify 
ing grace in the soul, either by a quality inherent in 
the rite, as Billuart and the Thomists contended, or by 
an external stimulation of the potentia obedientialis in the 
soul, as Suarez held? By formulating the question thus 
we avoid the ambiguity involved in the assertion that the 
Divine Omnipotence, as embodied and included in the sac 
ramental sign, physically produces grace (Viva), or that 
the Holy Ghost exerts a physical causality in the applica- 

3 See the treatise on the Holy Eucharist. 


tion of the external sign (Berti). These assertions, 
correct enough in themselves, do not touch the point at 
issue. The problem to be decided is whether or not 
the sacramental sign as such, i. e. as an instrument dis 
tinct from the Divine Omnipotence and -from the Holy 
Ghost, exerts a physical efficacy after the manner of a 
physical cause. 

2. DOGMATIC THESES. If it can be shown that 
the sacramental signs are endowed with a true, 
though purely moral causality, we may, without 
trenching on the dogmatic teaching of the Church, 
set aside the theory that they are physical causes 
of grace. Taking this ground will enable us to 
shatter the absurd Protestant contention that 
the Church attributes a sort of magic efficacy to 
her Sacraments. 

Thesis I : All the Sacraments, as acts of their invis 
ible author and chief minister, Jesus Christ, by vir 
tue of their immanent dignity, move God to the 
(physical) production of grace, and hence exert at least 
a moral causality. 

This proposition may be technically qualified as 

Proof. Even those theologians 4 who assert the 
physical efficacy of the Sacraments, do not deny 
their moral efficacy. Others 5 content them 
selves with upholding the moral efficacy of the 
Sacraments, without fear lest they be thereby de- 

4 Suarez, Gonet, and Gutberlet. Sacram., thes. 10 sq.) Chr. Pesch, 

5 De Lugo (De Sacram. in Gencre, Sasse, Tepe, et al. 
disp. 4, sect. 4), Franzelin (De 


prived of the "mysterious" element in their opera 
tion. 6 Indeed, is it not a profound mystery that 
God allows Himself to be moved by an external 
sign to bestow sanctifying grace ? 

The moral efficacy of the Sacraments is suf 
ficiently secured by two conditions : first, that the 
sign instituted by Christ, according to moral esti 
mation, is considered as filled with the merits 
of the passion and death of Christ, and secondly, 
that the sacramental act of the human minister 
is looked upon as performed by our Divine 
Saviour Himself. From these two elements 
the sacramental rite receives an objective dignity 
which raises it far above its natural meaning, con 
stitutes it the moral cause of the bestowal of 
grace, and renders it independent of the spiritual 
condition of the minister. 

a) The argument from Sacred Scripture may 
be formulated as follows: Christ s passion is 
the moral, because it is the meritorious cause of 
justification. 7 Consequently, and a fortiori, 
the Sacraments, being a mere application of the 
merits of the passion, are only the moral cause 
of justification. The Sacraments derive their 
efficacy from their immediate relation, not only 
to the blood of Christ, 8 but likewise to His sacred 

6 This fear is entertained by Atz- 8 Cfr. Col. I, 19 sq.; Heb. IX, 13 
berger and Gihr. sq.; i Pet. I, 2, etc. 

7 Cfr. Rom. V, 10; Eph. I, 7; i 
John I, 7; Apoc. I, 5, etc. 


Person, in whose name and as whose representa 
tive the human minister acts, 9 and thus they can 
not be merely conditions or occasions of grace. 

I Pet. Ill, 21, we read: "Salvos facit baptisma, non 
carnis depositio sordium, sed conscientiae bonae in- 
terrogatio (eTrepwr^a) in Deum per resurrectionem 
Christi" Our English Bible renders this text as fol 
lows : "... Baptism . . . now saveth you also : not the 
putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the examina 
tion of a good conscience towards God by the resurrec 
tion of Jesus Christ/ Here the water of the Deluge, from 
which some were rescued according to the body, is op 
posed to the water of Baptism, through which all faith 
ful Christians are saved according to the spirit, and 
Baptism is declared to be more than a " putting away of 
the filth of the flesh," i. e. more than a Levitic purification. 
Whence does Baptism derive its power of spiritual regen 
eration ? First of all from " the resurrection of Jesus 
Christ," which term is here employed by synecdoche for 
the entire work of the Redemption. 10 St. Peter goes on 

to describe Baptism as oweiS^o-ews ayaOfjs l-rrepurqua cis 

eov. The Greek word eTrepwr^a in this connection can 
only mean "question" (interrogate) or "petition" 
(rogatio, petitio), all other meanings such as "vow" 
(sponsio) or " treaty " (pactum) being excluded either 
for exegetical or lexicographical reasons. But the Latin 
rendering of the Vulgate, " conscientiae bonae inter- 
rogatio," which is followed by our English Bible, evi 
dently does not give the right sense. For to think of an 
examination of the baptizandus before Baptism would 

9 Cfr. i Cor. I, 13, III, 4 sq., 10 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Soteriohgy, 

IV, i. pp. 1 01 sqq. 


be to confuse an accidental rite with the essence of the 
Sacrament, which the Apostle means to characterize. 
Consequently, iirep^r^a must here mean 1X a prayer or 
petition for a good conscience, i. e. a purified and re 
generated soul. 12 Now prayer and petition belong to the 
category of moral causes, and consequently Baptism, 
and all the other Sacraments a pari, exert a moral 
efficacy. 13 

b) Tradition asserts the moral causality of the 
Sacraments wherever it speaks of the sacramental 
sign as "containing" the merits of Christ, who is 
the meritorious cause of our salvation, or refers 
to the human minister as a mere representative 
of the Redeemer. 

In the former case a Sacrament produces its effects 
in the same way as the Precious Blood of Christ, i. e. as 
a moral cause; in the latter, the rite, conceived as an 
action, has the same dignity and power before God as if 
the Redeemer baptized, confirmed, consecrated, 14 absolved, 
etc., in person, employing the human minister merely as 
His instrument or agent. 15 

Needless to say, the human minister of a Sacrament 
must not be identified with its Divine Institutor and 
principal Administrator. The instrumental cause has its 

11 Cfr. Matth. XVI, i : eTrepArr)- 15 Cfr. St. Augustine, Contr. Lit. 
ffav rogaverunt. Petil., Ill, 49, 50: "Hie [i. e. 

12 Cfr. John III, 5. Christ us] est qui baptizat in Spiritu 
is On i Pet. Ill, 21, see Hund- Sancto, nee, sicut Petilianus dicit, 

hausen, Das, erste Pontifikalschrei- iam baptisare cessavit, sed adhuc id 

ben des Apostelfilrstcn Petrus, agit, non ministerio corporis, sed 

Mainz 1873. invisibili opere tnaiestatis." Both 

14 Cfr. the " Hoc est corpus these momenta are also emphasized 

meum" in the Canon of the Mass. by St. Thomas (v. supra, p. 100, n. 


own peculiar operation, which does not coincide with that 
of the principal cause. Therefore, all defects, such as 
moral unworthiness, neglect, faulty pronunciation of the 
form, etc., are imputable to the minister. If he were to 
mutilate the baptismal formula in some non-essential 
point, it would not be true to say : " The Lord has 
baptized wrongly." Nor would it be right to say with re 
gard to Penance : " Christ confesses through the peni 
tent." But it would be proper to say : " Christ absolves the 
sinner through the priest." Where the recipient him 
self has to furnish the matter of a sacrament, as in Con 
fession, the form alone is the work of the human min 
ister, and, in the last resort, of Christ. But even where 
both matter and form are furnished by the minister, 
it is not permissible to substitute Christ unconditionally 
for His minister, though in most cases, as in the adminis 
tration of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Ex 
treme Unction, this would generally be true. Not so, 
however, in the case of Matrimony, which is both 
a human contract and a mystic relation, and consequently 
limited to human beings, and hence it would be false to 
say : " Christ enters into the matrimonial state." 16 

c) To this may be added the following meta 
physical considerations. The Sacraments derive 
their dignity from the merits and the ministerial 
action of Jesus Christ. Not, of course, from any 
merits acquired after His sacred passion or 
any new motive arising in His holy will. A 
Sacrament is merely an application of the exist- 

6) ; cfr. Morgott, Der Spender der 16 For the solution of other dif- 

hl. Sakramente nach der Lehre des faculties see De Augustinis, De Re 

hi. Thomas, pp. 2 sqq., Freiburg Sacramentaria, Vol. I, and ed., pp. 

1886. 245 sqq. 


ing merits of the Redeemer ; but it is more than a 
mere condition or occasion of grace. It is a true 
moral cause. Let us illustrate our meaning by an 
example. A king grants a general amnesty to 
all political offenders. Though this act of itself 
objectively includes all, nevertheless, petitions 
submitted by the convicts severally may be a moral 
cause of pardon, inasmuch as by these petitions 
the king is moved to apply his general will of 
showing mercy to each separate individual. 
Other examples sometimes adduced by theolo 
gians are less appropriate. Take, e. g., that of 
"a man who, on presenting a leaden coin, receives, 
by the king s command, a hundred pounds; not 
as though the leaden coin, by any operation of its 
own, caused him to be given that sum of money, 
this being the effect of the mere will of the king/ 
St. Thomas, who cites this example, justly ob 
serves: "If we examine the question properly, 
we shall see that according to the above mode 
the Sacraments are mere signs; for the leaden 
coin is nothing but a sign of the king s command 
that this man should receive money. (S. Th., 
3a, qu. 62, art. i.) If the simile is really to il 
lustrate the causality of the Sacraments, it must 
be changed as follows: Man, in the Sacrament 
which he receives, presents a gold coin, which, 
on account of its intrinsic value, morally com 
pels his sovereign to be liberal. Melchior Cano 


compares the recipient of a Sacrament to a man 
who, by submitting a list of the merits of Jesus 
Christ, compels God to give the promised grace 
as a quid pro quo. This example is somewhat 
more pertinent but still inadequate. Velas 
quez s contention that the moral causality of the 
Sacraments is owing to a merely impetratory in 
fluence is altogether unacceptable. The most sat 
isfactory theory is the one we have adopted, viz.: 
that the objective dignity of the Sacraments is 
due partly to the fact that they embody the effects 
of the merits of Jesus Christ, and partly to the 
act of their principal minister, i. e. our Lord Him 

Thesis II: The Sacraments are not physical 
causes of grace. 

This proposition is held as "more probable" by 
the majority of Catholic theologians. 

Proof. The doctrine enunciated in our thesis 
is defended by the Scotists without exception, by 
Cano, Vasquez, De Lugo, Tournely, Franzelin, 
De Augustinis, Pesch, Tepe, and others, against 
almost the entire Thomist school and Suarez, 
Bellarmine, Ysambert, Drouin, Schazler, Katsch- 
thaler, Oswald, Gutberlet, and Gihr. Since 
the latter group all unhesitatingly admit the 
moral causality of the Sacraments, whereby 
the doctrine of their efficacy ex opere operato is 


fully safeguarded, it is not easy to see why they 
should, in addition, adopt the theory of physical 
causality, which is both unprovable and unintel 

a) It is unprovable. The Scriptural and Pa 
tristic arguments upon which these writers base 
their contention merely prove the efficacy of the 
Sacraments but nothing as to the manner in which 
it is exercised. We may add, however, that the 
exaggerations (suggesting physical causality) 
upon which they lay so much stress may be wel 
come material in the defence of the real efficacy 
of the Sacraments, in the same way as the hy 
perboles of St. John Chrysostom in regard to the 
real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist are 
often used in support of that dogma. 

That such Biblical phrases as " born again of wa 
ter," 17 "cleansing it by the laver of water," 18 "He 
saved us by the laver of regeneration," 19 etc., do not 
necessarily imply a physical, but may be understood of a 
moral efficacy, is evidenced by such parallel passages as : 
" Being born again not of corruptible seed, but incorrupti 
ble, by the word of God," 20 "We have redemption 
through his blood," 21 " Alms is that which purgeth 
away sins," 22 and so forth. No doubt many Patristic 

17 loa. Ill, 5 : " Renatus . . . ex setnine corruptibili, sed incorrupti- 
aqua." bill per verbum Dei vivi." 

18 Eph. V, 26: " Mundans lava- 21 Eph. I, 7: " Habemus redcmp- 
cro aquae." tionem per sanguinem eius." 

19 Tit. 111,5: " Salvos nos fecit 22 Tob. XII, 9: " Elemosyna 
per lavacrum regenerationis." . . . ipsa est, quae purgat peccata." 

20 i Pet. I, 23: " Renati non ex 


expressions regarding the efficacy of the Sacraments are 
derived from physical phenomena, as e. g. the comparison 
of Baptism to water that engenders fish, or to the ma 
ternal womb developing a foetus. But they are em 
ployed merely to prove the efficacy of the Sacraments, 
not to define the nature of that efficacy. Whenever the 
Fathers speak of physical causality as such, they refer 
it either to the totum, as the synthesis of " omnipotence 
and sign," or to the divine omnipotence alone, and thereby 
indirectly admit that the sign, as sign, produces its effects 
in a purely moral way. 23 

It is claimed that the surprise which the Fathers often 
betray at the mysterious power of the baptismal water 
would be inexplicable, had they held the efficacy of 
Baptism to be merely moral. 24 But the theory of moral 
causality leaves sufficient room for surprise and mystery. 
Is not justification through the instrumentality of a visible 
sign mysterious enough? Does not the fact that God 
makes His grace dependent on material elements challenge 
surprise and admiration? 

b) The theory of physical causality is unintel 
ligible. In itself, this would not be a sufficient 
reason for rejecting it; but it justifies us in de 
manding stringent proofs before admitting a new 
theological mystery. 

Scotus 25 and some of his followers declare that it is 
impossible for a material element physically to produce 

23 For the Patristic texts in proof 24 Cfr. Billuart, De Sacram., diss. 

of this statement see De Augustinis, 3, art. 2. 

De Re Sacrament., Vol. I, 2nd ed., 25 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. i, 

pp. 258 sqq. ; Chr. Pesch, Praelect. qu. 5. 
Dogmat., Vol. VI, 3rd ed., pp. 65 


supernatural effects. We would not go as far as that; 
but we do hold with De Lugo that matters of religious 
belief should not be unnecessarily rendered obscure or 
difficult. 26 The two principal arguments against the 
theory of physical causality are based on the nature of 
the sacramental rite and the revival of the Sacraments, 
a) The whole sacramental sign never exists simul 
taneously. Either the sacramental form in its physical 
entity has passed away, as in the reception of the Holy 
Eucharist, or the matter is no longer present, as in the 
absolution of a penitent who has confessed his sins the 
day before he receives absolution. But even where mat 
ter and form coexist, as they do e. g. in Baptism, the 
administration of the Sacrament requires time; that 
which physically existed at the beginning no longer ex 
ists in the end, and vice versa. Now it is a philosophical 
axiom that action supposes being, and consequently, noth 
ing can produce physical effects unless it has a physical 
existence. Which part, then, of the sign produces the 
effect ? Or does each part produce part of the effect ? Is 
justification divisible? Does it arrive by parts? Clearly, 
here is a new mystery. To escape the force of this argu 
ment, Suarez 27 and others declare that the bestowal of 
grace is physically bound up with the last word or final syl 
lable of the sacramental form. Why not with the last let 
ter ? or, to be entirely consistent, with the last breath es 
caping from the mouth of the minister who pronounces 
the formula? If only a part of the sign is efficacious, 
what value has the remainder? Or, if it be admitted 
that what has physically passed away endures morally 

26 De Sacram,, disp. 4, sect. 4, 27 De Sacrament., disp. 8, sect. 2, 

n. 35: " Non debemus res nostrae n. 15. 
fidei absque necessitate difficiliores el 
obscitriores reddere." 


and produces moral effects, what reason is there to as 
sume that it is precisely the last word or syllable of 
the form that becomes the physical instrument of grace? 
Then, again, there are cases in which the necessary con 
ditions of physical efficacy are entirely absent, as in a 
marriage contracted by proxy. Who would assert that 
God causes the consent of a bride residing in New York 
to produce a physical effect in the soul of her husband in 
London, or vice versa? These and similar consequences 
entailed by the theory of physical causation provoke the 
scorn of infidels and help nothing towards clearing up 
the mysterious action of the Sacraments. 28 

(3) The possibility of a revival of the Sacraments 
(reviviscentia sacramentorum) furnishes another con 
vincing argument against the theory of physical causality. 
This argument may be briefly stated thus: The Sacra 
ments frequently confer grace in an exclusively moral 
manner, as when Baptism is validly conferred on an 
unworthy subject and attains its efficacy only after the 
existing obstacle has been removed (remoto obice). If 
grace can be conferred by a purely moral influence in ex 
ceptional cases, why assume that it produces its ordinary 
effects by physical causation ? Baptism, though physically 
past, effects in its unworthy subject, as soon as he acquires 
the proper disposition, spiritual regeneration and forgive 
ness of sins. This cannot be a physical effect, because 
the cause is no longer present when the effect sets in, 
as even Suarez admits. 29 

The contention of certain Thomists that the sacra 
mental character is the physical medium of grace, is in 
admissible. To produce grace is not the purpose of the 

28 Cfr. Vasquez, Comment, in 20: "In eo casu sacramentum prae- 
Sent., Ill, disp. 123, c. 6. teritum non concurrit per physicam 

29 De Sacram., disp. 9, sect. 2, n. efficientiam ad gratiam praestandam." 


character, but of the Sacrament itself. Besides, there 
are Sacraments which, though they confer the sacra 
mental character, are incapable of being revived. Where, 
for instance, is grace to find its physical medium in 
Matrimony ? There is nothing left but to admit that it is 
truer and more probable to assume that those Sacra 
ments which do not imprint a character on the soul 
produce their effects morally, not physically, when the 
obstacle is removed. 30 But if this be admitted in some 
cases, why not in all ? 

c) The attitude of St. Thomas is in dispute. 
Perhaps the Angel of the Schools, like St. 
Bonaventure, 31 favored neither opinion. It is 
safe to assume, however, that he regarded the 
Sacraments as moral, without denying that they 
are also physical, causes of grace. There is no 
contradiction in ascribing to the Sacraments such 
a twofold causality. If St. Thomas believed in 
the latter theory, he did not exclude the former, 
as is evidenced by his declaration that "The Sac 
raments of the Church derive their power espe 
cially from Christ s passion, the virtue of which 
is in a manner united to us by our receiving the 
Sacraments." 32 If the passion of our Lord is 

30 Cfr. Gonet, De Sacram,, disp. p. i, qu. 4: " Nescio tamen, quae 
3, art. 3, 2, n. 81 : " Verior et sit verior." 

probabilior est solutio ac doctrina 32 Sumnta Theol., 33, qu. 62, art. 

aliorum Thomistarum asscrentium, 5 : " Sacramenta Ecclesiae speciali- 

sacramenta quae non imprimunt ter habent virtutem ex passione 

characterem recedente fictione [. e. Christi, cuius virtus nobis quodam- 

remoto obice] non causare physice, tnodo copulatur per susceptionem 

sed moraliter." sacrament orum." 

31 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. i, 


morally efficacious, the same must be true of its 
concrete embodiment and application through the 
sacramental sign. 33 In his earlier days St. 
Thomas held that the sacramental sign, on account 
of its inability to produce the substance of sancti 
fying grace, this being reserved to the Divine 
Omnipotence, effects in the soul only a kind of 
spiritual disposition (dispositio spiritualist or 
ornament (ornatus aniniae) which, as res and ^a- 
cf amentum , is on a level with the sacramental 
character, and imperatively demands the infusion 
of sanctifying grace. 34 Whether he conceived 
this dispositio or ornatus as produced by physical 
or moral means, is open to debate. However, the 
fact that the Angelic Doctor does not mention 
this theory in the Summa Theologica 35 seems to 
prove that he attributed no particular importance 
to it. At any rate, since its rejection by Cardinal 
Cajetan, the theory has disappeared from the 
writings of the Thomists, who vigorously de 
fend the physical causality of the Sacraments. 
The only reason why we mention it at all is that 
it has been recently revived by Cardinal Billot, 36 
who holds that the Sacraments produce sanctify- 

33 This argument is ably developed Paludanus, Sylvester of Ferrara, 
by Tepe, Instit. TheoL, Vol. IV, pp. etc. 

47 sq. 35 It recurs, however, in his 

34 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. i, Quaestiones Disp., De Potentia. 
qu. i, art. 4. He was followed in 36 De Ecclesiae Sacramentis, Vol. 
this opinion by nearly all pre-Tri- I, 4th ed., pp. 68 sqq., Rome 1907. 
dentine theologians, Capreolus, 


ing grace neither morally nor physically, but effi- 
cienter dispositive, i. e., by creating in the soul a 
certain spiritual disposition, of the same kind as 
that which the ancients called ornatus. If this 
were true, the efficacy of the sacramental rite 
would be indirect, an assumption which unduly 
depreciates the Sacraments. To this should be 
added the following consideration: The spirit 
ual disposition produced in the soul by the Sac 
raments, according to Billot, is either a physical 
quality, or it is not. If it is, there is no essential 
distinction between those Sacraments that im 
print a character and those that do not. If the 
dispositio spirit ualis is not a physical quality of 
the soul, it can hardly be anything more than a 
moral claim to grace (titulus gratiae), and then 
the efficacy of the Sacraments is purely moral. 

Scheeben s curious theory that the Sacraments 
produce their effects by a sort of "hyper-physical" 
efficacy, is too obscure to obtain general accept 
ance. 37 

READINGS: *C. von Schazler, Die Lehre von der Wirksamkeit 
der Sakramente ex opere operate, Munich 1860. Bucceroni, Com- 
mentarius de Sacramentorum Causalitate, Paris 1889. G. Rein- 
hold, Die Streitfrage iiber die physische oder moralische Wirk 
samkeit der Sakramente, Vienna 1899. *Heinrich-Gutberlet, Dog- 
matische Theologie, Vol. IV, 485-491, Mainz 1901. Gihr, Die 

37 On the ornatus animae cfr. M. 1901. For a defence of Billot s 

Buchberger, Die Wirkungen dcs teaching see G. Van Noort, De Sa- 

Bussakramcntes nach der Lehre des cramentis, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 48 

hi. Thomas, pp. 150 sqq., Freiburg sqq., Amsterdam 1910. 


hi Sakramente der kath. Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 63 sqq., Frei 
burg 1902. Pourrat, La Theologie Sacramentaire, pp. 85-184, 
Paris 1910 (English tr., Theology of the Sacraments, pp. 93-196, 
St. Louis 1914). Mohler, Symbolik, 28 sqq., nth ed., Mainz 
1890 (English tr. by J. B. Robertson, 5th ed., pp. 202 sqq., London 
1906). J. B. Rohm, Konfessionelle Lehrgegens dtze, Vol. Ill, pp. 
539 sqq., Hildesheim 1888. 



The primary or principal minister (minister 
primarius sive principalis) of the Sacraments 
is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 1 Those 
whom He employs as His representatives are 
called secondary or instrumental ministers (mini- 
stri secundarii sive instrument ales). 

i V. supra, pp. 146 sqq. 




The conditions of the valid administration of 
a Sacrament depend partly on the qualification of 
the minister and partly on his interior disposition. 
The minister need not be in the state of grace, 
nor need he have the faith (negative disposi 
tion), but he must have the right intention (pos 
itive disposition). 



The combination of matter and form into a sacramental 
sign (confectio), and its application to the individual re 
cipient (administratio) , two factors which, with the 
sole exception of the Holy Eucharist, invariably coincide, 
require a minister who has the full command of 
reason. Hence lunatics, children, and others who have 
not the full use of reason are incapable of administering 
a Sacrament. 2 

Besides this there are several other requisites of valid 

2 Decretum pro Armenis : " Omnia tentione faciendi quod facit Ecclesia: 
sacramenta tribus perficiuntur, vide- quorum si aliquod desit, non per- 
licet rebus tamquam materia, verbis ficitur sacramentum." (Denzinger- 
tamquam forma et persona ministri Bannwart, n. 695). 
conferentis sacramentum cum in- 



IN THE WAYFARING STATE. This condition ex 
cludes the angels and the departed. Christ con 
ferred His powers upon living men, 3 and the 
Apostles in their turn chose living men for their 
successors. 4 "It is those who inhabit the earth, 
and walk upon it," says St. Chrysostom, "who are 
called to administer heavenly things, and who 
have received a power which God has granted 
neither to the angels nor to the archangels." 5 
This truth, so clearly inculcated by Sacred Scrip 
ture and Tradition, is entirely consonant with 
reason ; for as the Sacraments are means of grace 
intended for the living, it is obvious that they 
must be administered by living agents. 

True, certain Saints (e. g. St. Stanislaus Kostka) are 
said to have received Holy Communion through the 
medium of angels. But Holy Communion is, so to 
speak, a permanent Sacrament, already consummated, 
and if some privileged Saint received it at the hands of 
an angel, this does not argue that the consecration of 
the species took place through the same agency. Fol 
lowing the lead of St. Augustine, 6 Aquinas teaches: 
" As God did not bind His power to the Sacraments, so 
as to be unable to bestow the sacramental effect without 
conferring the Sacrament; neither did He bind His 
power to the ministers of the Church, so as to be unable 
to give angels power to administer the Sacraments." 7 

sCfr. Matth. XXVIII, 19; John 5 De Sacerdotio, III, 5. 

XX, 22; Luke XXII, 19. 6 Contra Ep. Parmen., II, 15. 

4 Cfr. i Cor. IV, i sqq. ; Eph. IV, 7 Summa Theol., aa, qu. 64, art. 

8 sqq. 7: " Sicut Deus virtutem suam non 


It is well, however, to exercise great caution in regard 
to such alleged happenings. Thus the statement of Ni- 
cephorus Callistus, 8 that St. Amphilochius was conse 
crated by an angel, and that his fellow-bishops confirmed 
the act as valid, is open to serious objections. Such ex 
traordinary reports must be established by incontroverti 
ble evidence, lest the certainty of the sacramental econ 
omy be exposed to grave danger. Luther exceeded all 
bounds by asserting that the devil can validly baptize, 
consecrate, and absolve, 9 a possibility which had been 
denied by St. Thomas Aquinas and Thomas of Argen 
tina. 10 

Council teaches against Luther: "If anyone 
saith that all Christians have power to administer 
the word and all the Sacraments, let him be 
anathema." n It follows that, in order to be able 
to administer at least some of the Sacraments, a 
person must be specially qualified. Such quali 
fication is imparted by the Sacrament of Holy 
Orders. The only two exceptions to this rule are 
Baptism and Matrimony. 

The secondary minister in the administration of a Sac 
rament acts " in persona Christi," 12 as Christ s per- 

alligavit sacramentis, quin possit sine 10 Comment in Sent., IV, dist. 

sacramentis effectum sacrament orum 6, qu. i, art. i. 

conferre, ita etiam virtutem suam n Sess. VII, can. 10: "Si quis 

non alligavit Ecclesiae ministris, dixerit, Christianas omnes in verbo 

quin etiam angelis possit virtutem et omnibus sacramentis administran- 

tribuere ministrandi sacramenta." dis habere potestatem, anathema 

8 Hist. Eccles., XI, 20. sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 853). 

o Von der Winkelmesse und 12 Cfr. 2 Cor. II, 10. 
Pfaffenweihe, 1533. 


sonal representative. It stands to reason that not every 
man is such a special representative of Christ, but only 
he who has been expressly commissioned. In civil life an 
ordinary citizen cannot perform official acts unless he is 
duly authorized. The exception in favor of Baptism and 
Matrimony is apparent rather than real. The parties 
to a marriage, by entering into the matrimonial contract, 
do not become either civil officials or public ministers of 
Christ ; they may be said to represent the person of Christ 
only in so far as they mutually administer the Sacra 
ment to each other, but not in the full sense in which 
the term minister is used in regard to the other Sacra 

The question is even simpler in respect of Baptism. Its 
solemn administration requires a bishop, priest or deacon ; 
only in cases of urgent necessity can this Sacrament 
be conferred by a lay person, acting not as a public of 
ficial of the Church, but merely as a private helper in 
need. According to Suarez 13 this is true even of priests 
when they baptize without the prescribed ceremonies in 
urgent cases. Luther claimed that every Christian is a 
priest, because St. Peter says : " You are a chosen gen 
eration, a kingly priesthood." 14 But I Pet. II, 9 by no 
means proves this contention. The priesthood in which 
all the faithful share is purely metaphorical, as appears 
from i Pet. II, 5 : " Be you also ... a holy priesthood, 
to offer up spiritual sacrifices." 15 If the term teparevfux 
(priesthood) were to be strictly interpreted in this 
passage, we should also have to take /foo-i Aciov (kingly) 
in its literal sense, which is manifestly impossible. 

13 De Sacram., disp. 16, sect. 4. 15 i Pet. II, 5: "... sacerdo- 

14 i Pet. II, 9: " Vos out on tium sanctum (ieparevfjia ayiov), 
genus electum, regale sacerdotium offerre spirituales hostias." 


TO HIMSELF. The minister of a Sacrament and 
its recipient must be separate persons. 

This requirement is based (i) on the nature of things, 
because in most instances it is impossible for the 
minister to apply the matter and form of a Sacrament 
to himself; (2) on the divine economy of grace, it hav 
ing pleased God to make men dependent on one an 
other ; and (3) on Christ s positive command to His Apos 
tles and their successors, to dispense the means of grace 
to others. The only exception is the Holy Eucharist, 
which can be administered and received by the same indi 



As the sacramental sign is the inanimate medium of 
grace, 16 so the minister is its animate instrument in the 
hands of Christ. Both together constitute the instru- 
mentum adaequatum gratiae. The human minister, be 
ing a person, not only exercises an instrumental activity 
of his own, but is possessed of certain moral qualities. 
The question arises whether one who is in the state of 
mortal sin, or has lost the true faith, can validly admin 
ister the Sacraments. We will set forth the Catholic 
teaching on these points in two theses. 

Thesis I: The validity of a Sacrament does not 
depend on the personal worthiness of the minister. 

This proposition embodies an article of faith. 
Proof. The early Donatists asserted that a 

16 V. Ch. Ill, supra. 


minister, in order to confer a Sacrament validly, 
must be in the state of sanctifying grace. This 
teaching was revived in the Middle Ages by the 
Waldenses, the Fraticelli, the Albigenses, the 
Wiclifites, and the Hussites. Innocent III de 
manded of the Waldenses a profession of faith in 
which this error was expressly repudiated. 17 
The Council of Constance (A. D. 1418) con 
demned Wiclif s assertion that a bishop or priest 
who is in the state of mortal sin can neither bap 
tize nor consecrate nor confer holy Orders. 18 
Lastly, the Council of Trent defined: "If any 
one saith that a minister, being in mortal sin, 
if he observe all the essentials which belong to the 
effecting or conferring of a Sacrament, neither 
effects nor confers the Sacrament, let him be ana 
thema." 19 

Our thesis cannot be proved from Sacred 
Scripture, but rests wholly on Tradition and rea 

a) The Church has always regarded the admin 
istration of a Sacrament in the state of mortal sin 
as a sacrilege, and insists on the personal sanc- 

17 Profess. Fidei Waldensibus ab 19 Sess. VII, can. 12: "Si quis 
Innocentio III. Praescripta: " Sa- di.verit, ministrum in peccato mortdli 
cramenta, . . . licet a peccatore sa- existent em, modo omnia essentialia 
cerdote ministrentur, dum Ecclesia quae ad sacramentum conficiendum 
eum recipit, in nullo reprobamus." out conferendum pertinent serva- 
(Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 424). verit. non conficere out conferre 

18 " Si episcopus vel sacerdos exi- sacramentum, anathema, sit." (Den- 
stat in peccato mortali, non ordinat, zinger-Banmvart, n. 855). 

non consecrat, non baptizat." (Den- 
zinger-Bannwart, n. 584). 


tity of her priesthood ; 20 but she has never condi 
tioned the validity of a Sacrament on the moral 
worthiness of the minister. Her early teaching 
on the subject is clearly apparent from the writ 
ings of St. Optatus of Mileve and St. Augustine 
against the Donatists. 

Aside from certain peculiar views of Tertullian 21 and 
Origen, 22 the question regarding the moral disposition of 
the minister arose later than that regarding his orthodoxy, 
which was hotly debated in the controversy that raged 
about the question of the rebaptizing of those who had 
been baptized by heretics. 23 When bishops and priests be 
gan to apostatize in time of persecution, conscientious 
Catholics quite naturally asked themselves : " Can such un 
worthy men validly baptize or confer Holy Orders ? " It 
was this question, in fact, which may be said to have given 
rise to the Donatist schism. In the year 311, Bishop Felix 
of Aptunga, who was (falsely) accused of having deliv 
ered the sacred books of the Christians to their enemies, 
consecrated a certain archdeacon named Csecilian to the 
episcopal see of Carthage. A party of zealots in the last- 
mentioned city denounced this act as invalid and set up 
another bishop in the person of one Majorinus, who was 
soon after succeeded by Donatus the Great. Optatus, 
bishop of Mileve, in his work De Schlsmate Donatistarum 
(written about 370), triumphantly demonstrated that the 
validity of a Sacrament does not depend on the disposi 
tion of the minister. It remained, however, for St. Au 
gustine to break the backbone of the new heresy. Start 
ing from the favorite Donatist distinction between " pub- 

20 V. infra, pp. 188 sq. 22 In Matth., t. XII, 14. 

21 De Pudic., c. 21. 23 V. infra, Thesis II. 


lie " and " private " sinners, he argued as follows : The 
Sacrament of Baptism is administered either by a private 
or a public sinner. If by a private sinner, Baptism among 
the Donatists themselves is uncertain, since they, too, have 
private sinners among their number. If by a public 
sinner, the case stands no better, since all guilty of mortal 
sin, whether public or private, are on a par before God. 
Consequently, the validity of a Sacrament can not depend 
on the worthiness of the minister. In matter of fact, there 
is no Baptism of Donatus or Rogatus, etc., but only the one 
Baptism of Jesus Christ, which confers grace by reason 
of its innate power, independently of human merit. 24 

In the East, at about the same time, St. John Chrysos- 
tom taught : " It may happen that the rulers of a na 
tion are bad and corrupt, and their subjects good and 
pious, that the laity live moral lives while the priests 
are guilty of iniquity. But if grace always required 
worthy [ministers], there would be no Baptism, no body 
of Christ [Eucharist], no sacrifice [of the Mass]. Now 
God is wont to operate through unworthy men, and the 
grace of Baptism is in no wise stained by the [sinful] 
life of the priest." 25 

Several Patristic writers exemplify this truth by strik 
ing metaphors. Thus St. Gregory of Nazianzus com 
pares a Sacrament to a signet ring and says that the 
emperor s iron ring has the same power of making a 

24 Cfr. St. Augustine, Contra erat, Christus baptizavit." A list of 

Crescon., II, 21, 26: " Baptizant, St. Augustine s writings against the 

quantum attinet ad visibile minister* Donatists can be found in Barden- 

um, et boni et mail, invisibiliter hewer-Shahan, Patrology, pp. 484 

autem per eos ille baptizat, cuius sq. Several of the most important 

est et visibile baptisma et invisibilis of them are translated into English 

gratia." IDEM, Tract, in loa., V, in Dods, The Works of Aurelius 

n. 18: " Si quos bap tizavit ebriosus, Augustine, Vol. Ill, Edinburgh 

quos baptizavit homicida, quos bap- 1872. 

tisavit adulter, si baptismus Christi 25 Horn, in Ep. i ad Cor., 8, n. i. 


mark as a ring of gold ; 28 and St. Augustine calls atten 
tion to the fact that the rays of the sun shine upon 
filth without being contaminated by it. 27 

The same ideas were again brought forward in the con 
flict with the spiritualistic sects of the Middle Ages. 

b) From the philosophical point of view the following 
considerations are pertinent. As far as mere possibility 
is concerned, there can be no doubt that Jesus Christ, 
had He so willed, could have limited the power of confer 
ring His Sacraments to members of the true Church, and 
made it dependent on the subjective disposition of the 
minister. However, in His wisdom our Lord preferred 
to tolerate innumerable sacrileges rather than limit too 
narrowly the requisites of valid administration. By 
making the Sacraments independent of the personal merit 
or demerit of the minister, He safeguarded three im 
portant truths: (i) their objective efficacy, depending 
in no wise on the moral character of the minister; (2) 
His own priesthood, which cannot be tainted by His 
representatives; and (3) the certainty to which the 
faithful have a right in matters pertaining to eternal 
salvation. If the validity, power, and effect of the Sac 
raments had been made to depend on the subjective 
condition of the minister, the doctrine of their ob 
jective efficacy ex op ere operato would have been en 
dangered as well as the important truth that all human 
ministers are but representatives of the one great High 
Priest, the God-man Jesus Christ, and the faithful would 
have had no certainty with regard to the valid reception 
of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, etc. Such a 
state of affairs would have produced insufferable qualms 
of conscience and brought contempt and disregard upon 

26 Or. de Bapt., 40, n. 26. 27 De Bapt. c. Donat., Ill, 10, 15. 


the divinely instituted means of grace. 28 Nor would it be 
possible, without this safeguard, to uphold the hierarchi 
cal order. To assure themselves that the Sacraments 
were validly administered, the laity would pry into the 
private life of the clergy, and there would arise a system 
of espionage which would necessarily entail denunciation, 
calumny, slander, quarrels, and scandals. The admin 
istration of the Sacraments would thus be surrounded by 
conditions which would make them a source of evil rather 
than of blessing. 

Thesis II: The validity of a Sacrament does not 
depend on the orthodox belief of the minister. 

This thesis is de fide in respect of Baptism. 

Proof. It is the formal and solemn teaching 
of the Tridentine Council that heretics bap 
tize validly if they observe the prescribed form 
and have the intention of doing what the Church 
does. "If anyone saith that the Baptism which 
is given by heretics in the name of the Father and 
of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, with the in 
tention of doing what the Church doth, is not 
true Baptism, let him be anathema." 29 A pari, 
and because of the established practice of the 
Church, theologians regard it as fidei proximum 

28 Cfr. St. Bonaventure, Brevil., " Si quis dixerit, baptismum qui 

VI, 5: "Si sacramenta dispcnsari etiam datur ab haereticis in nomine 

solum possent a bonis, nullus esset Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti cum 

certus de susceptione sacramenti, intentione faciendi quod facit EC- 

et sic oporteret semper iterari et clesia, non esse verum baptismum, 

malitia unius praeiudicaret alienae anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bann- 

saluti." wart, n. 860). 

20 Sess. VII, De Bapt., can. 4: 


that heretics can validly administer all the other 
Sacraments, with the sole exception of Penance, 30 
which cannot, barring cases of urgent necessity, 
be validly conferred by heretical and schismatic 
priests; not on account of their lack of ortho 
doxy, but because they have no ecclesiastical juris 

a) With the outbreak of schisms and heresies 
there naturally arose doubts concerning the valid 
ity of Baptism when administered by heretics or, 
generally, by those outside the fold. As early as 
256, Pope Stephen I decided against the practice 
of rebaptizing heretics, which had been intro 
duced by St. Cyprian and his fellow-bishops in 
Africa. 31 

Up to the third century it was regarded as an Apostolic 
rule to recognize Baptism conferred by heretics as 
valid. About 220, Agrippinus, bishop of Carthage, be 
gan to rebaptize converted heretics. The new practice 
received the sanction of two councils (A. D. 255 and 
256), presided over by St. Cyprian. 32 When Pope 
Stephen had decided against it, Cyprian wrote to Firmil- 
ian, bishop of Caesarea, to ascertain the views of the 
churches of Asia Minor. These, at a council held in 
Iconium, sanctioned the African practice, but their 

30 Maldonatus and Morinus 32 Cfr. St. Cyprian, Ep., 73, n. 
mistakenly except also Confirmation 13 (ed. H artel, II, 787): " Proinde 
and Holy Orders. frustra quidam, qui ratione vincun- 

31 " Si qui ergo a quacumque tur, consuetudinem nobis opponunt, 
haeresi venient ad vos, nihil innove- quasi consuetudo maior sit veritate 
tur nisi quod traditum est, ut manus out non id sit in spiritualibus se* 
illis imponatur in poenitentiatn." quendum, quod in melius fuerit a S. 
(Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 46). Spiritu revelatum." 


decision was annulled by the Pope, in 253, under 
threat of excommunication. St. Dionysius the Great of 
Alexandria prevented a schism, 33 but Firmilian stuck to 
his opinion, and in reply to St. Cyprian s inquiry said: 
" We join custom to truth and oppose to the custom 
of Rome that of the truth." 34 The very fact that both 
Cyprian and Firmilian confessedly acted in opposition to 
an ancient tradition shows that the Roman practice was 
of Apostolic origin. " This most wholesome custom," 
says St. Augustine, " according to the Blessed Cyprian, 
began to be what is called amended by his predecessor 
Agrippinus, but ... we ought to believe that it rather 
began to be corrupted than to receive correction at the 
hands of Agrippinus." 35 And Vincent of Lerins says : 
" The antiquity was retained, the novelty was ex 
ploded." 36 The doubts that arose on various later occa 
sions had nothing to do with the principle itself, but merely 
concerned its practical application. Often it was not easy 
to determine whether this or that particular sect used the 
proper formula in baptizing. Thus St. Basil (d. 379) 
was in doubt about the Encratites and the Pepuzians. 
St. Augustine, in his controversy with the Donatists, con 
fidently appealed to tradition. He drew a clearer dis 
tinction between character and grace than St. Cyprian 
had done, and declared that, while a Sacrament may 
be validly administered by heretical ministers, yet its 
effects might not be visible among their sects. 37 

33 Cfr. Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., tudinem per Agrippinum praedcces- 
VII, 2. sorem suum dicit S. Cyprianus quasi 

34 Inter Ep. Cypr., 75, n. 19 (ed. coepisse corrigi, sed . . . verius 
Hartel, II, 822): " Ceterum nos creditur per Agrippinum corrumpi 
veritati et consuetudinem iungimus coepisse, non corrigi." 

et consuetudini Romanorum consue- 36 Commonit., I, 6: " Retenta est 

tudinem sed vcritatis opponimus." scil. antiquitas, explosa novitas." 

55 De Bapt. c. Donat., II, 7, u: 37 Cfr. St. Augustine, Contra 

" Hanc ergo saluberrimam consue- Donat., VI, i : " Non ob aliud 


b) The theological reason for the validity of 
Baptism when conferred by a heretical minister, 
is to be sought in the maxim so constantly urged 
by St. Augustine : "It is Christ who baptizes/ 38 
Let it not be objected that no one can give what 
he does not himself possess (nemo dat quod non 
habet) ; for he who confers Baptism, whether he 
be himself baptized or unbaptized, orthodox or 
heretical, pure or unclean, does not confer his 
own Baptism but the Baptism of Christ. 39 

What we have said of Baptism applies also to the re 
maining Sacraments, especially to Confirmation and Holy 
Orders. The practice of the Church with regard to 
them is the same and based on the same reasons. Only 
the Sacrament of Penance, is, as a rule, considered in 
valid if administered in heretical sects, even such as have 
validly ordained bishops and priests ; not, however, as we 
have already remarked, because these ministers have 
not the power to absolve, but because, except in cases of 
urgent necessity, they lack ecclesiastical jurisdiction. 
Even the most orthodox Catholic confessor cannot give 
absolution if he lacks jurisdiction and is generally known 

visum est quibusdam, etiam egregiis Baptism. The historical aspects of 

viris, antistitibus Christi, inter quos the controversy are well treated by 

praecipue b. Cyprianus eminebat, J. Ernst, Die Kctsertaufangelegen- 

non esse posse apud haereticos vel heit in der altchristlichen Kirche 

schismaticos baptismum Christi, nisi nach Cyprian, Mainz 1901; IDEM, 

quid non distinguebatur sacramen- Papst Stephan I. und der Ketzer- 

tum ab effectu vel usu sacramenti; taufstreit, Mainz 1905. See also B. 

et quia cius effectus atque usus in Poschmann, Die Sichtbarkeit der 

liberations a peccatis et cordis recti- Kirche nach der Lehre des hi. 

tudine apud haereticos non in-venie- Cyprian, pp. 49 sqq., 114, Pader- 

batur, ipsum quoque sacramentum born 1908. 

non illic esse putabatur." For fur- 38 " Christus est qui baptizat." 

ther information we refer the stu- 39 Cfr. i Cor. I, 13. 

dent to Part II of this volume, on 


to lack it Where good faith and a titulus coloratus may 
be presumed, the Church supplies the defect. For this 
reason confession among the schismatic Greeks or Rus 
sians cannot be rejected as invalid. Sacramento, propter 
homines, the Sacraments have been instituted for the 
sake of men, and we may safely assume that the Church, 
desiring to aid those who are blamelessly in error, supplies 
the lack of jurisdiction in schismatical ministers. 40 



i. PRELIMINARY REMARKS. Intention (in- 
tentio) may be defined as an act of the will by 
which that faculty efficaciously desires to reach 
an end by employing the necessary means. 41 In 
tention is not synonymous with attention, for man 
can act with a purpose even when his mind is 

a) It is customary to distinguish various kinds of in 
tention by which an act may be prompted. 

There is, first, the actual intention, operating with the 
full advertence of the intellect. When a minister wishes 
here and now to confer, e. g., the Sacrament of Baptism, 
he has an actual intention. 

Secondly, there is the virtual intention. Its force is 
borrowed from a previous volition, which is accounted 
as continuing in some result produced by it. Thus, if a 

40 Cfr. Billot, De Sacramentis EC- Theol., la aae, qu. 12, art. i, ad 3: 
clesiae, Vol. I, 4th ed., p. 158, Rome " Intentio nominat actum voluntatis 
1907. praesupposita ordinatione rationis 

41 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa ordinantis aliquid in finem. 1 


minister begins with an actual intention, but is distracted 
while administering the Sacrament, he has a virtual in 

Thirdly, an habitual intention is one that once actually 
existed, but of the present continuance of which there is 
no positive trace. The most that can be said of it is that 
it has never been retracted. A priest subject to somnam 
bulism, who would administer Baptism in his sleep, might 
be said to act with an habitual intention. 

Fourthly, an interpretative intention is an intention that 
would be conceived if one thought of it, but which for 
want of thinking of it, is not elicited. It is simply the 
purpose which it is assumed a man would have had in a 
given contingency, had he given thought to the matter. 
There has been and is no actual movement of the will. 42 

An intention of some sort is necessary in the min 
ister for the valid administration of a Sacrament. It need 
not be actual. Distractions cannot always be avoided. 
A virtual intention is sufficient. Not so, however, an 
habitual or interpretative intention, which is really not in 
existence while the action is performed, and consequently 
can have no effect upon it. 

b) With regard to quality, an intention may be either 
direct or reftex, according as the minister realizes the full 
import of his action or performs it without being fully 
conscious of its character and effects. Thus, a priest 
who, in baptizing an infant, explicity desires to cleanse 
the soul from original sin and to bestow sanctifying 
grace, acts with a reflex intention. One who sim 
ply performs all that is prescribed by the ritual has a 
direct intention. 

Theologians also distinguish an indirect intention, by 

42 Cfr. J. F. Delany in the Catho- Thos. Slater, Moral Theology, Vol. 
lie Encyclopedia, Vol. VIII, p. 69; II, p. 28. 


virtue of which a man intends an action not in itself but 
in its cause (voluntarium in causa sive indirectum), as 
when one under the influence of liquor does something 
which he had made up his mind to do when sober. Such 
an indirect intention is not sufficient in the minister of 
a Sacrament ; if it were, Baptism could be administered, or 
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated, by a priest 
in the state of intoxication. A direct intention suffices for 
the valid administration of the Sacrament. 

A species of the direct. intention is the so-called intentio 
mere externa. It may be defined as the purpose of per 
forming the external rite of a Sacrament while internally 
withholding the intention to administer the same. The 
term was invented by Ambrosius Catharinus in order to 
safeguard the objectivity of the Sacraments. Catharinus, 
and some other theologians who followed his lead, 
thought that such an intention of performing the ex 
ternal rite, even if coupled with an internal refusal to 
do what the Church does, would suffice for the validity of 
a Sacrament. To-day this opinion has scarcely any ad 
herents. The common doctrine now is that a real in 
ternal intention, viz.: the will to accomplish what Christ 
instituted the Sacraments to effect, in other words, truly 
to baptize, absolve, etc., is required. 43 

Sacrament validly, the minister must have a real 
intention to do what the Church does (Thesis 
I). For this the mere external intention postu 
lated by Catharinus is not sufficient (Thesis II). 

43 Delany, /. c. 


Thesis I: To administer a Sacrament validly, the 
minister must have the intention at least to do what 
the Church does. 

This proposition embodies an article of faith. 

Proof. The Decretum pro Annenis defines 
that the intention to do what the Church does is 
a necessary requisite for the valid administration 
of a Sacrament. 44 The Tridentine Council sol 
emnly declares: "If anyone saith that in min 
isters, when they effect and confer the Sacra 
ments, there is not required the intention at least 
of doing what the Church does, let him be ana 
thema/ 45 To understand the full significance of 
this declaration it should be noted that the Coun 
cil does not say, "what the Church intends" but 
merely, "what the Church does" Consequently, 
all that is necessary for the valid administration 
of the Sacraments is the direct intention, i. e. the 
purpose of performing the rite as is usual among 
Catholics. To demand in addition a reflex in 
tention, either for the administration of the Sac 
rament as such, or for the production of the sac 
ramental character and the infusion of grace, 
would be to make the validity of the Sacrament 
depend upon the orthodoxy of the minister, an 
assumption which we have shown to be false. 46 

44 V. supra, p. 162, n. 2. tern faciendi quod facit Ecclesia, 

45 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, can. anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bann- 
ii : "Si quis dixerit, in ministris, wart, n. 854). 

dum sacr amenta conficiunt et con- 46 V. supra, Art. 2, Thesis II. 

ferunt, non requiri intentionem, sal- 


a) The Apostle says: "So let men account 
us as ministers of Christ/ 4T It follows from 
this that the minister of a Sacrament, being a 
servant or minister of Christ, must have the 
intention of exercising the powers delegated 
to him by the Master. Now, since the Church 
acts in the name of her Divine Founder, one 
who has not the intention of doing at least 
what the Church does, does not conduct himself 
as a minister of Christ, nor does he exercise the 
powers conferred by Him. Consequently, with 
out the intention of doing what the Church does 
there can be no Sacrament. 

This Biblical argument can be supported by philosophi 
cal considerations. We know from John XX, 23, that 
by the power of absolving which, in the Sacrament of 
Penance, he exercises in the name of Christ, a con 
fessor may either forgive or retain sins. Hence he 
must, after hearing the penitent, make up his mind either 
to absolve him or to send him off without absolution. 
He can do neither the one nor the other without having 
some kind of an intention. 

Matrimony is not only a Sacrament, but it is also a con 
tract requiring the mutual consent of both parties. There 
can be no true consent without an intention to get married. 

A priest who, in saying Mass, would refuse to subject 
himself to the will of Christ, in whose name he speaks 
and acts, would not have .the right intention, and conse 
quently would not act as a minister of Christ, and the 

47 i Cor. IV, i : " Sic nos existimet homo nt ministros Christi." 
(Cfr. the Westminster Version). 


words of consecration pronounced by him would be void. 
The same, mutatis mutandis, holds true of the other Sac 

b) The teaching of Tradition on this point has 
undergone a lengthy process of clarification. 

The most ancient testimony that has come down to us 
is contained in a letter of Pope Cornelius (251-253) to 
Fabius of Antioch. The Pontiff relates how the anti-pope 
Novatian, who was the leader of the rigorist party, enticed 
three ignorant provincial bishops to Rome, made them 
drunk, and compelled them to give him episcopal conse 
cration. The Pope distinctly says that this consecration 
was invalid. 48 The reasons plainly are : first, because the 
consecrating bishops were under the influence of liquor 
and therefore irresponsible; second, because they acted 
under compulsion (cogit). 

There is an old legend that Bishop Alexander received 
into the Christian fold certain companions of St. Atha- 
nasius, whom the boy had baptized at play. 49 This is prob 
ably a mere fable, but if it were true, it would prove 
that very liberal notions were current in the third cen 
tury regarding the intention of the minister of a Sacra 
ment, though we can not help wondering why Bishop 
Alexander did not inquire whether the baptized boys had 
the intention necessary to receive the Sacrament. 

St. Augustine was evidently not quite clear on this mat 
ter, for he hesitated to declare that Baptism is invalid if 
administered in jest or as a farce. " But where [if] ... 
the whole thing were done as a farce, or a comedy, or a 
jest, I should think that to know whether the Baptism thus 

48 Cfr. Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., dam et inani manuum impositions 

VI, 43: "Eos ille a quibusdam sui episcopatum sibi tradere per vim 

simillimis, quos ad id comparaverat, cogit/ 

inclusos hord decima, temulentos et 49 Cfr. Rufinus, Hist. Eccles., I, 

a crapula oppresses adumbrata qua- 14. 


conferred should be approved, we ought to pray for 
the declaration of God s judgment through the medium 
of some revelation . . ." 50 

In the primitive Church there was a tendency to regard 
every Sacrament administered according to the prescribed 
rite as valid, without inquiring into the intention of the 
minister, which was always presumed to be right. The 
philosophic discussion concerning the necessity of the 
right intention as a requisite of validity was reserved to 
the Schoolmen. Hugh of St. Victor, so far as we know, 
was the first theologian to insist on this point. 51 William 
of Auxerre (d. 1223) invented the formula: " Intentio 
faciendi quod facit Ecclesia" This was introduced into 
the terminology of the schools and more adequately ex 
plained by Alexander of Hales, whose teaching was fol 
lowed by St. Bonaventure, 52 Scotus, and the whole Fran 
ciscan school. St. Thomas, following his master Albert, 
proves the necessity of a right intention on the part of 
the minister from the proposition that every free instru 
mental cause must voluntarily accommodate itself to the 
principal cause, in this case Christ, the author and 
chief administrator of the Sacraments. " There is 
required on the part of the minister that intention by 
which he subjects himself to the principal agent, i. e. 
intends to do what Christ does and the Church." 53 The 
entire Thomist school faithfully adhered to this doctrine, 
which was adopted even by Durandus and the Nominalists 

50 Cfr. St. Augustine, De Bap- sacramentorum est opus hominis ut 
tismo contra Donatistas, VII, 53, rationalis, ut ministri Christi, et ut 
102: " Ubi autem . . . totum ludi- ministri salutis; hinc est quod ne- 
cre et mimice et ioculariter agere- cesse est quod fiat ex intentione." 
tur, utrum approbandus esset bap- 53 Cfr. Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 64, 
tismus, qui sic daretur, divinum iitdi- art. 8, ad i : " Requiritur eius in- 
cium . . . implorandum censerem." tcntio, qua se subiiciat principals 

51 Summa, tr. 6, c. 4; De Sa- agenti, ut scil. intendat facere quod 
cram., II, 6, 13. facit Christus et Ecclesia." 

VI, 5: " Dispensatio 


and finally became the common teaching of Catholic theo 
logians. Innocent III, Martin V, and Eugene IV, by em 
ploying the Scholastic formula in official pronouncements, 
prepared the way for its dogmatization by the Council of 
Trent. 54 

c) The theological argument for our thesis is 
based on three facts : ( i ) the minister of a Sac 
rament acts as the representative of Christ; (2) 
without some definite intention the administration 
of a Sacrament would be an indifferent act; and 
(3) the contrary proposition leads to absurd con 

1 i ) The minister of a Sacrament, as we have repeatedly 
pointed out, acts not in his own name but in the name of 
Christ and as His representative. To do this he must 
have the intention of doing one thing in preference to an 
other, vis. : what Christ wishes him to do. As the will of 
the Church in the administration of the Sacraments neces 
sarily coincides with that of her Divine Founder, it suf 
fices to have the intention of doing what the Church does. 

(2) The confectio of a Sacrament, i. e. the combina 
tion of matter and form into the sacramental sign, is not 
necessarily of itself a sacramental act, but indifferent 
and ambiguous, inasmuch as the minister, being a free 
agent, may act with any one of a number of different 
purposes, e. g., to practice, to play a joke, to make a 
mockery of religious ceremonies, etc. It depends entirely 
on his free will whether what he does is intended as a 

54 Cfr. Schanz, Die Lehre von den hi. Sakramenten, pp. 173 sqq., Frei 
burg 1893. 


sacramental rite or not. Hence the necessity of a proper 

(3) The contrary teaching of Luther entails utterly ab 
surd consequences. If no intention were required in 
the administration of the Sacraments, a mother would 
baptize her baby by bathing it in a tub and invoking the 
name of the Trinity ; a priest reading the words of con 
secration from the Bible would nolens volens consecrate 
a loaf of bread accidentally lying near him, and so forth. 

Thesis II : A merely external intention in the sense 
of Catharinus is not sufficient for the validity of a 

This proposition may be technically qualified 
as communis. 

Proof. Catharinus teaches that all that is 
required for the validity of a Sacrament on the 
minister s part is that he have the intention of 
performing the external rite, even though he 
withhold interior assent. 55 This teaching seems 
to have been forecast by Aureolus (d. 1322) and 
Sylvester Prierias (d. 1523), but did not come 
prominently forward until the seventeenth cen 
tury, when it was espoused by a number of French 
and Belgian theologians, notably Contenson, 
Farvacques, Duhamel, Juenin, Serry, and 

In the nineteenth century this theory was sporadically 
defended by L. Haas, Glossner, and Oswald. The last- 
mentioned writer retracted his earlier teaching in the 

55 V. supra, p. 177. 


fifth edition of his treatise on the Sacraments, published 
in 1894. His ablest opponents were Morgott 5G and 
Franzelin. 57 

The question at issue may be briefly formulated thus : 
Does a minister who has the intention of performing the 
external rite, but withholds his interior assent from 
the mind of the Church, validly confer a Sacrament? 
Catharinus and his followers answer this question af 

a) Though their opinion has never been di 
rectly and formally condemned, it runs counter 
to a number of conciliary and papal decisions. 

Innocent III demanded of the Waldenses that they sub 
scribe to a profession of faith containing these words in 
regard to the Holy Mass : " For which celebration 
three things are necessary, as we believe, namely, 
a certain person, i. e. the priest, . . . those solemn words 
[of institution], . . . and the honest intention of the one 
who pronounces them." 58 Can he who interiorly repudi 
ates what he externally does, be said to have an " honest 
intention " ? Note, too, that the Pope mentions the " fide- 
lis intentio " as something independent of and separable 
from the act of uttering the words of consecration. This 
last-mentioned point is brought out more clearly in the 
following question, addressed to certain suspected Wic- 
lifites and Hussites by command of Martin V : " Does 
he believe that a bad priest, employing the proper matter 
and form, and having the intention of doing what the 

56 Fr. Morgott, Der Spender der credimus, necessaria, soil, cert a per- 
hl. Sakramente nach der Lehre des sona, i. e. presbyter , . . et ilia 
hi. Thomas, pp. 132 sqq., Freiburg solemnia verba [institutionis] , . . 
1886. et fidelis intentio proferentis." 

57 De Sacramentis, thes. 17. (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 424). 

58 " Ad quod officium tria sunt, ut 


Church does, truly consecrates, truly absolves, truly bap 
tizes, truly confers the other Sacraments ? " 59 He who 
employs the proper matter and form, manifestly has the 
external intention postulated by Catharinus and means to 
perform the external rite in the prescribed way. But this 
is not sufficient, or else the Pope would not add : " and 
having the intention of doing what the Church does." 
Eugene IV in his famous Decretum pro Armenis (1439), 
besides the putting together of matter and form (in which 
the intentio mere externa of Catharinus is sufficiently 
guaranteed), expressly demands the intentio faciendi quod 
facit Ecclesia as a distinct conditio sine qua non of 
validity. Now this intention, in addition to the external 
performance of the sacramental rite, coincides with the 
internal intention which we defend. It is evidently this 
interior intention that the Council of Trent means when 
it commands the minister of a Sacrament to do what 
the Church does. 60 A minister who, while carefully ob 
serving the prescribed rite, would withhold interior as 
sent to the mind of the Church, could have no other in 
tention than to play the hypocrite. The correctness of 
this interpretation may be judged from the Council s 
declaration as to the right intention of confessors: 
". . . The penitent ought not so to confide in his own 
personal faith as to think that even though there be 
... no intention on the part of the priest of acting seri 
ously and absolving truly he is nevertheless . . . ab 
solved, . . . nor would he be otherwise than most care 
less of his own salvation who, knowing that a priest ab 
solved him in jest, should not carefully seek for another 

59 ". . . utrum credat, quod mains vere absolvat, vere baptiset, vere 

sacerdos cum debita materia et conferat alia sacramenta." (Den- 

forma et cum intentione faciendi zinger-Bannwart, n. 672). 

quod facit Ecclesia, vere conficiat, 60 V. supra, Thesis I. 


who would act in earnest." 61 In this passage the Holy 
Synod mentions two separate and distinct intentions: 
that of " acting seriously " and that of " absolving truly." 
These two intentions are either substantially identical or 
they are separate and distinct. If they are identical, the 
second phrase is merely an explanation of the first, and 
the intention of acting seriously coincides with that of 
absolving truly, which latter is evidently an interior in 
tention. If they are not identical, then the intention of 
acting seriously (which is precisely Catharinus intentio 
mere e.rterna), is not sufficient for valid absolution, be 
cause there is further required the intention of absolving 
truly. In either case the merely external intention is in 

The opinion of Catharinus sustained a severe blow 62 
by the condemnation pronounced by Alexander VIII 
(1690) against the proposition that "Baptism is valid 
if conferred by a minister who observes the whole ex 
ternal rite and form of the Sacrament, but interiorly in 
his heart says : I do not intend to do what the Church 
does." 63 This proposition was extracted from the writ 
ings of the Belgian theologian Farvacques, who was an 
ardent champion of the intentio mere externa, and hence 
it is perhaps not too much to say that Catharinus theory 
stands condemned. 64 

61 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. XIV, 62 V. Benedict XIV, De Synodo 

cap. 6: "Non debet pocnitens Dioecesana, VII, 4, 8. 

adeo sibi de sua ipsius fide blandiri, 63 " Valet baptismus collatus a 

ut etiamsi . . . sacerdoti animus ministro, qui omnem ritum externum 

serio agendi et vere absolvendi desit, formamque baptizandi observat, intus 

putet tamen se . . . esse absolutum, vero in corde suo apud se resolvit: 

. . . nee is esset nisi salutis suae Non intendo quod facit Ecclesia." 

negligentissimus, qui sacerdotem (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 1318). 

iocose absolventem cognosceret, et 64 Serry s evasive arguments on 

non alium serio agentem sedulo re- this subject are convincingly refuted 

quireret." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. by Tepe, Instit. Theol., IV, 79 sqq. 


b) The arguments alleged in favor of the 
sufficiency of a merely external intention are in 

The laudable desire manifested by our opponents to 
safeguard the objective efficacy of the Sacraments against 
the wiles of unworthy men and to give the faithful as 
great a certainty as possible of receiving the sacramental 
graces, must not lead us to overlook the necessity of an 
interior intention. Two elements, the one objective, the 
other subjective, enter into the composition of every Sac 
rament : the external rite and the interior intention. No 
Sacrament is complete without them. Nor is it safe to 
extol the former to the prejudice of the latter. It is not 
pertinent to compare the external rite to a fire 65 
which, laid to dry wood, at once kindles it, even when 
there is no intention of arson on the part of him who 
brings about the contact. On the other hand, Divine 
Providence has seen fit to entrust the administration of 
the Sacraments to human beings. We must therefore 
be satisfied with such moral certitude as can generally be 
had. 66 

65 As the followers of Catharinus 3rd ed., pp. 119 sqq. ; De Augu- 
do. stinis, De Re Sacramentaria, I, 2nd 

66 V. supra, Thesis I. Cfr. ed., pp. 235 sqq. 
Pesch, Praelect. Dogmat., Vol. VI. 



As this subject is fully dealt with in moral 
and pastoral theology, we shall confine ourselves 
to a few general remarks. 

i. THE STATE OF GRACE. The minister of a 
Sacrament represents Jesus Christ, who is all- 
holy; he performs a sacred rite endowed with 
sanctifying power, and therefore should be a man 
of unblemished character. If he solemnly and 
officially confers a Sacrament in the state of mor 
tal sin, he commits a sacrilege. 1 

Both the natural 2 and the positive divine law prescribe 
that the priest of God be holy. In the Old Testa 
ment Yahweh admonished the sons of Aaron : " Be ye 
holy, because I the Lord your God am holy," 3 and de 
manded of the Levites " that they shall be holy to their 
God, and shall not profane his name: for they offer the 
burnt offering of the Lord, and the bread of their God, 
and therefore they shall be holy." 4 With how much 
greater force does this apply to the Catholic priest, who 
offers up, not calves and oxen, but the flesh and blood 

1 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa TheoL, 5 : " Est de iure natural*, ut homo 
33, qu. 64, art. 6. sancta sancte pertractet." 

2 Cfr. St. Thomas, Comment, in 3 Lev. XIX, 2. 
Sent., IV, dist. 24, qu. i, art. 3, sol. 4 Lev. XXI, 6. 



of the God-man, and becomes a visible instrument of 
sanctification in the hands of His invisible Master. 
Justly does St. Gregory the Great declare : " It is nec 
essary that the hand be pure which is engaged in cleaning 
away filth, lest it spread contamination by contact." 5 A 
priest who habitually lives in the state of mortal sin not 
only provokes the divine vengeance, but, by his bad 
example and the scandal he gives, helps the devil to ruin 
those immortal souls which he has been commissioned to 
save. The great defection in the West probably would 
never have come about had the clergy of the sixteenth cen 
tury lived up to their high calling. 

MENTS. He who possesses the power of validly 
conferring the Sacraments, is in duty bound to 
do so when he has charge of souls. This applies 
to bishops, pastors and their representatives, and 
religious superiors. 6 Besides, a priest may be 
bound by charity, under penalty of mortal sin, to 
administer certain Sacraments in case of urgent 

Under certain conditions, which it is the busi 
ness of moral and pastoral theology to determine, 
a priest is bound to refuse the Sacraments to un 
worthy applicants. 7 If there be danger of sacri 
lege, he must be ready to suffer martyrdom 

5 Ep., I, 25: " Necesse est ut 6 Cfr. Concilium Trident., Sess. 

esse munda studeat mantis, quae XXIII, De Reform., c. i. 

diluere sordes curat, ne tacta quae- 7 Cfr. Matth. VII, 6; i Tim. V, 

que deterius inquinel." 22. 


rather than be unfaithful to his charge, for it is 
never permitted to do evil, not even to save one s 
life, and the desecration of a Sacrament is always 
a great evil. Nor is it licit to escape danger of 
death by simulation, either by omitting an essen 
tial part of a Sacrament where such omission 
cannot be externally known and the people have a 
right to the Sacrament, or by secretly harboring 
the intention not to administer it; for Innocent 
XI (1679) nas solemnly condemned the proposi 
tion that urgent fear furnishes a just cause for 
simulating the administration of the Sacra 
ments." 8 To omit an essential part or all of the 
Sacrament, or substitute for it something else, is 
permissible for just cause, provided there be no 
contempt in so acting and no injury done to either 
Sacrament or recipient. 

8 " Urgens metus gravis est causa of this Section the student may 

iusta sacramentorum administra- profitably consult Pesch, Praelect. 

tionem simulandi." (Denzinger- Dogmat., Vol. VI, 3rd ed., pp. 124 

Bannwart, n. 1179). On the subject sqq. 





fit subject for the administration of the Sacra 
ments is man in the wayfaring state. The angels 
cannot receive them because they are pure spirits ; 
the brutes, because they are irrational ; dead bod 
ies, because they are no human persons ; departed 
souls, because they are incapable of receiving any 
rite, and because they have reached the status 

However, not every living man is a fit subject 
for all the Sacraments. The only Sacrament 
which an unbaptized person is capable of receiving 
is Baptism. Women are excluded from Holy 
Orders, subdeacons and clerics in major orders 
cannot receive the Sacrament of Matrimony, 
persons in good health are debarred from Ex 
treme Unction, infants from Penance, Matri 
mony, and Extreme Unction. All these points 



will be more fully explained in connection with the 
several Sacraments. 

the sole exception of Penance, which demands 
certain supernatural acts (faith, contrition, etc.) 
either as quasi-matter, or at least as a necessary 
condition, the possession of the true faith is not 
an indispensable requisite for the valid reception 
of the Sacraments on the part of the subject. 

a) The proofs of this assertion can be gathered from 
the controversy that was waged about the question of 
rebaptizing heretics. St. Augustine says in his famous 
treatise on Baptism against the Donatists : " It is im 
material, when we are considering the question of the in 
tegrity and holiness of the Sacrament, what the recipient 
of the Sacrament believes, and with what faith he is 
imbued. It is of the very highest consequence as re 
gards the entrance into salvation, but it is wholly immate 
rial as regards the question of the Sacrament. For it is 
quite possible that a man may be possessed of the genuine 
Sacrament and a corrupted faith." * If the validity of the 
Sacraments depended on the faith of the recipients, Prot 
estantism would be quite consistent in denying their ob 
jective efficacy and in basing justification solely on per 
sonal belief. 

i De Baptismo contra Donatistas, Fieri enitn potest, ut homo integrum 
III, 14, 19: "Nee interest, quum habeat sacramentum et perversam 
de sacramenti integritate et sancti- fidem." Cfr. the same author s Con- 
tate tractatur, quid credat et quali tra Lit. Petil, II, 35, 82: "Bap- 
fide imbutus sit ille, qui accipit sa- tismi puritas a puritate vel im- 
cramentum. Interest quidem pluri- munditia conscientiae sive dantis sive 
mum ad salutis viam, scd ad sacra- accipientis prorsus distincta est." 
menti quaestionem nihil interest. 


If a heretical belief cannot imperil the validity of the 
Sacraments, neither can the presence or absence of some 
particular subjective disposition. Hence it is true of re 
cipient and minister alike, 2 that personal unworthiness 
does not render a Sacrament invalid, though, of course, 
it may rob it of its proper and ultimate effect, viz.: 
the sanctifkation of the soul. Absence of the right dis 
position for the fruitful reception of a Sacrament is 
called obex gratiae (obex = a bar or obstacle). Hence, 
according to the Tridentine Council, the non posi- 
tio obicis (=remotio indispositionis) is an indispensable 
condition of sacramental grace. "If anyone saith that 
the Sacraments of the New Law ... do not confer that 
grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto, 
... let him be anathema." 3 Hence, if one places an 
obstacle to sacramental grace, 4 he receives the Sacra 
ment unworthily, but the Sacrament itself is not invalid ; 
it is valid but lacking its proper form (validum et in- 

b) Can a Sacrament received validly though unworth 
ily (i. e. if an obstacle prevents the infusion of divine 
grace at the time of reception), obtain its effects after the 
obstacle has been removed ? This is the famous question 
regarding the " reviviscence " of the Sacraments (revivi- 
scentia sacramentorum) , to which so much attention has 
been given by theologians. 5 In every case of that kind 
there is a twofold possibility. Either the recipient is 
unaware of the obstacle (mortal sin) existing in his soul, 
and therefore receives the Sacrament in good faith (obex 

2 V. supra, Thesis I, pp. 166 sqq. 4 The obex gratiae is also called 

3 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, simulate dispositio or fictio. 

can. 6 : " Si quis dixerit, sacra- 5 Cfr. the Catholic Encyclopedia, 

menta Novae Legis . . . gratiam Vol. XIII, 304 b. 
ipsam non ponentibus obicetn non 
cvnferre, anathema sit." 


negativus sive inculpabilis) ; or the obstacle is known and 
voluntary, and then the Sacrament is received sacrileg 
iously (obex positives sive culpabilis). The first-men 
tioned possibility has already been considered in a previous 
part of this treatise. 6 It remains to inquire whether a 
person who has received a Sacrament sacrilegiously can 
recover its effects. 

Theologians are agreed 7 that if Baptism be received by 
an adult in the state of mortal sin, he can obtain the graces 
of the Sacrament later, when the obstacle has been re 
moved by contrition or by the worthy reception of Pen 
ance. " In the case of him who has approached the Sac 
rament in deceit," says St. Augustine, " there is no sec 
ond Baptism, but he is purged by faithful discipline and 
truthful confession, which he could not be without Bap 
tism, so that what was given before, becomes then power 
ful to work his salvation, when the former deceit is done 
away by the truthful confession." 8 It is to be remarked, 
however, that cases of this kind are sometimes quite com 
plicated in practice. If one who has received Baptism 
ficte, as it is technically termed, commits no additional 
mortal sin after his sacrilegious Baptism, the Sacrament 
may recover its effects as soon as he has the disposition 
he ought to have had when he received it, i. e. imperfect 
contrition (attritio). But if he renders himself guilty 
of new mortal sins after Baptism, attrition will not suffice ; 
he must have perfect contrition (contritio) with a firm 

6 V. supra, pp. 68 sqq. fit ut non denuo baptisetur, sed 

1 Some have excepted Vasquez ipsa pia corrections et veraci con- 

(Disp., 159, sect, i), but that fessione purgetur, quod non posset 

author s teaching on this head is sine baptismo, ut quod ante datum 

really in accord with the common est, tune valere incipiat ad salutem, 

doctrine. quum ilia fictio veraci confessione 

8 De Baptismo c. Donat., I, 12, recesserat." 
18: "In illo, qui fictus accesserat, 


purpose of going to confession, because grievous sins 
committed after Baptism can be remitted only by the 
power of the keys. 9 If his contrition is not perfect, 
the unworthily received Sacrament of Baptism can re 
cover its effects only in connection with Penance, which 
blots out mortal sin ex opere operato, and removes the 
obstacle that prevented the infusion of grace. The same 
is true of one who, being deceived as to his own dispo 
sition, has received Baptism without imperfect contrition, 
(which, in the adult, is an indispensable requisite for the 
valid reception of that Sacrament), and then commits ad 
ditional mortal sins. 

The reviviscence is not so certain in the case of the 
other Sacraments. Theologians unanimously hold that 
Confirmation and Holy Orders can recover their effects on 
account of the permanent character which they imprint 
on the soul. The contrary assumption would lead to the 
untenable and intolerable conclusion that the sacrilegious 
reception of Sacraments that cannot be repeated would 
deprive the recipient forever both of sanctifying grace and 
the sacramental (actual) graces proper to these Sacra 
ments. In other words, one who has received Confirma 
tion unworthily, even if he repent, could never receive 
the grace of that Sacrament, which is so necessary for the 
preservation of the faith, and a priest who had received 
Holy Orders unworthily, though validly, would never, 
according to that theory, receive the special graces pe 
culiar to ordination, without which it is impossible to ad 
minister the sacerdotal office properly. 10 

9 On this point see the treatise on Apud vos quidem aliena sunt; sed 
the Sacrament of Penance. quum vos correctos rccifit, cuius 

10 Cfr. St. Augustine, Contra sunt, fiunt ea salubritcr vestra, quae 
Crescon., II, 10: " Christiana sane perniciose habebatis aliena." 
sacramenta in vobis agnosco . . 


Applying what we have said to Extreme Unction and 
Matrimony, we may go a step further and affirm that these 
two Sacraments are likewise capable of being " revived." 
Matrimony cannot be received twice by the same parties, 
and Extreme Unction may not be repeated whilst the same 
danger of death lasts. Hence these two Sacraments may 
be said to be at least relatively incapable of repetition, 
and therefore capable of reviviscence. 

The case is different with Penance and the Holy 
Eucharist. These two Sacraments, if sacrilegiously re 
ceived, do not recover their effects when the obstacle is 
removed. There can be no " reviviscence " of Penance, 
because if the penitent is not sufficiently disposed to re 
ceive grace at the time he confesses his sins, the Sacra 
ment is not validly received, since the acts of the penitent 
are a necessary part of the matter of this Sacrament. 11 
There can be no " reviviscence " of the Holy Eucharist 
after the sacred species are consumed, because the fruits 
of this Sacrament may be supplied through other chan 
nels. 12 To these particular reasons must be added a gen 
eral one, viz.: that Catholics can receive these two Sacra 
ments as often as they please. 13 

adults, according to the teaching of the Council of 
Trent, justification always takes place "through 
the voluntary reception of grace and the gifts. 


11 See the treatise on Penance. cramentis in Gcnere, disp. 9, sect. 6. 

12 See the treatise on the Holy 14 Cone. Trident., Sess. VI, cap. 
Eucharist. 7: "... per voluntariam suscep- 

13 On the whole subject of this tionem gratiae et donorum." 
subdivision cfr. De Lugo, De Sa- 


Consequently, justification, if effected through the 
Sacraments, must be voluntary and requires a cor 
responding intention in the recipient. We have 
learned in a previous treatise, 15 that the entire 
process of justification, no matter whether it 
terminate in the reception of a Sacrament or not, 
consists of a long chain of preparatory acts per 
formed with the help of grace. Hence every 
adult who desires to be justified, must have a 
positive intention to receive the Sacrament. 
Pace Cardinal Cajetan, who stands alone in his 
opposition to this theory, interior repugnance, or 
even neutrality, renders the Sacrament invalid, 
a) The teaching of Tradition is unanimous on 
this point. 

St. Augustine says : " From insufficiency of age they 
[infants] can neither believe with the heart unto right 
eousness, nor make confession with the mouth unto salva 
tion. Therefore, when others take the vows for them, 
that the celebration of the Sacrament may be complete in 
their behalf, it is unquestionably of avail for their dedi 
cation to God, because they cannot answer for themselves. 
But if another were to answer for one who could answer 
for himself, it would not be of the same avail. In ac 
cordance with this rule we find in the Gospel what strikes 
every one as natural when he reads it : He is of age, 
he shall speak for himself. " 16 Several ancient councils 

15 Grace, Actual and Habitual, pp. ncc ore confiteri ad salittem. Ideo 
272 sqq. quum alii pro eis respondent, ut im- 

16 De Bapt. c. Donat., IV, 24: pleatur crga eos celebratio sacra- 
" Ex aetatis indigenila [parvuli] nee menti, valet utique ad eorum con- 
corde credere ad iustitiam possunt secrationem, quia ipsi rcspondcre 


forbade the administration of the Sacraments, including 
those that are indispensable for salvation, to subjects in 
disposed for their worthy reception. 17 Pope Innocent III, 
in his decree against the adherents of Pierre de Bruys and 
other sectaries, emphatically insists upon the necessity of 
a right intention. He says : " He who never consents, 
but contradicts with all his might, receives neither the 
grace nor the character of the Sacrament." 18 The Roman 
Ritual and the ordinary practice of the Church are in per 
fect conformity with this teaching, which St. Thomas, and 
the Scholastics generally, base ( I ) on the positive will of 
Christ, who does not force His benefits upon any one, and 
(2) on the essential character of the Sacraments as acts 
of religious worship, which can only be performed de 
liberately and with a free will. 19 

b) What kind of an intention must the recipi 
ent have to receive a Sacrament validly ? 20 

The majority of theologians hold that the Holy Eu 
charist requires for its valid reception no intention what 
ever. This is a strange opinion, which we cannot share. 
A Catholic forced to take the Sacred Host against his will 
could no more be said to receive Holy Communion validly 
than an unbelieving Jew. True, he would receive a per- 

non possunt. At si pro eo qui re- nium aliorum verbis habet out prae- 

spondere potest, alius respondent, sentis in suo nutu." 

non itidem -valet. Ex qua regula 18 Cap. "Maiores:" " Ille vero, 

illud in evangelio dictum est, quod qui nunquam consentit, sed penitus 

omnes, quum legitur, naturaliter contradicit, nee rent nee characterem 

mo-vet (loa. IX, 21): Aetatem ha- suscipit sacramenti." (Denzinger- 

bet, ipse pro se loquatur." Bannwart, n. 411). 

17 E. g., the First Council of 19 On some alleged instances of 

Orange; cfr. Labbe, Condi., t. Ill, compulsory ordination see Billuart, 

p. 1449: " Subito obmutescens, De Sacram. in Communi, diss. 6, art. 

prout status eius est, baptisari out i. 

poenitentiam accipere potest, si 20 On the intention required of the 

voluntatis out praeteritae testimo- minister, see supra, pp. 175 sqq. 


manent Sacrament, but his reception of it would be a 
merely physical act, and consequently devoid of the true 
sacramental character and unproductive of grace. 

Matrimony requires for its valid reception not merely 
an habitual or interpretative, but a virtual intention, be 
cause the contracting parties mutually administer the Sac 
rament to each other. 21 

Some theologians demand a virtual intention also for 
the valid reception of Holy Orders, claiming that such 
onerous duties as celibacy and the recitation of the Divine 
Office demand mature deliberation and a deep self knowl 

In all other cases it may safely be affirmed that the 
habitual intention is sufficient, because the Church 
regards the reception of the Sacraments by insane or un 
conscious persons as valid if it can be shown that the re 
cipient had previously expressed, and never formally re 
voked, the intention of receiving them. 22 In the case of 
Extreme Unction it is customary to administer the Sac 
rament on the strength of a purely interpretative in 
tention, because every Catholic may reasonably be pre 
sumed to have the wish of dying in conformity with 
the teaching and practice of the Church. 

21 See the treatise on Matrimony intelligitur contradictionis proposi- 
in Vol. XI of this series. turn perdurare, etsi fucrint immersi, 

22 Cfr. Pope Innocent III, Cap. characterem non suscipiunt sacra- 
" Maiores " : " Dormientes autem et menti; secus autem si prius catechu- 
amentes, si priusquam amentiam in- meni exstitissent et habuissent pro- 
currerent out dormirent, in con- positum baptisandi." 

tradictione persisterent, quia in eis 



though validly administered, is not received 
worthily, i. e. does not confer grace, unless the 
recipient has the right disposition. 

A Sacrament (sacramentum tantum) and the sacra 
mental grace which it confers (res tantum, effectus) are 
two separate and distinct things. A Sacrament does not 
fulfil the whole purpose for which it was instituted unless 
it actually confers grace. (The sacramental characters 
imprinted by Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders are 
also interior effects; but they are merely gratiae gratis 
datae, not gratiae gratum facientes, and therefore have 
nothing to do with the disposition of the recipient.) * 
It follows that the worthy reception of a Sacrament re 
quires something more on the part of the recipient than 
mere valid reception. 2 In determining the requisites of 
a worthy reception of the Sacraments the Church shows 
how exalted her moral ideals are. 3 She declares that 
whoever consciously receives a Sacrament in an unworthy 
manner, i. e. without due preparation, is guilty of a sacri 
lege. 4 The unworthy recipient commits a greater 

1 V . supra, pp. 79 sqq. 4 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa Theol., 

2 V. supra, Section i. 2& zae, qu. 90, art. 3. 

3 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. XIII, 
cap. 7. 



sin than the unworthy minister, because he prevents the 
Sacrament from taking effect. What St. Paul says of the 
unworthy reception of the Eucharist, 5 applies in a manner 
to all the Sacraments, inasmuch as the sacrilegious re 
cipient manifests contempt for the Precious Blood of 
Christ and compels our Lord, who is the principal min 
ister, to perform a useless act, at least in as far as the 
object of immediate sanctification is concerned. St. Au 
gustine draws a distinction between habere and utiliter 
habere 6 and asks : " What does it avail a man to 
be baptized if he is not justified?" 7 The Church has 
always insisted on the necessity of due preparation for the 
reception of the Sacraments. 

MENTS OF THE DEAD. The requisites of worthy 
reception are not the same for all the Sacraments. 
The so-called Sacraments of the dead require for 
their worthy reception attrition along with its 
various dispositive acts (faith, fear, hope, etc.), 
whereas the Sacraments of the living demand 
nothing less than the state of grace. 

a) Sacraments of the dead are those instituted 
for the remission of sin or the production of the 
state of grace (iustificatio prima). There are 
two Baptism and Penance. Their worthy re 
ception depends upon the same requisites as justi 
fication itself, viz.: faith, fear, hope of forgive 
ness, contrition and a firm purpose of amend- 

5 i Cor. XI, 27 sq. " Quid cuiquam prodest quod bapti- 

6 De Bapt. c. Donat., IV, 17, 24. caiur, si iwn iustificatur? " 
^ De Civitate Dei, XXI, 27, 3: 


ment. Cfr. Mark XVI, 16: "He that believeth 
and is baptized, shall be saved." Acts II, 38: 
"Do penance and be baptized every one of you in 
the name of Jesus Christ." 8 

The contrition required for Baptism and Pen 
ance need not be perfect. Perfect contrition 
(contritio), which is a true supernatural sorrow 
from a motive of perfect charity, justifies a man 
independently of the Sacraments. Baptism and 
Penance can be worthily received by one who has 
an imperfect contrition. Imperfect contrition 
(attritio) is a true supernatural sorrow from a 
motive of incipient charity or fear, coupled with a 
firm purpose of amendment. 9 It removes moral 
indisposition (remotio obicis) and renders the 
sinner worthy of receiving either Baptism or 
Penance, thereby enabling these Sacraments to 
effect his justification ex opere operate. 

b) The case is somewhat different with the 
Sacraments of the living. Confirmation, the 
Holy Eucharist, Extreme Unction, Matrimony, 
and Holy Orders presuppose the state of sancti 
fying grace, which they merely increase (iusti- 
ficatio secunda). Hence the only requisite of a 
worthy reception of these Sacraments is the state 
of grace. He who is in the state of grace places 
no obstacle (obex) to the efficacy of these Sacra- 

8 On justification, cfr. Pohle- 9 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. VI, 

Preuss, Grace, Actual and Habitual, cap. 7; Sess. XIV, cap. 3. 
pp. 274 sqq. 


ments, because he is not guilty of mortal sin. 
Venial sin may diminish but cannot prevent the 
effect of these Sacraments. 

The sanctifying grace required for these Sac 
raments can be obtained either by making an act 
of perfect contrition or by worthily receiving the 
Sacrament of Penance. 10 Confession, moreover, 
is prescribed by a law of the Church for the 
worthy reception of Communion. 11 Though no 
such positive precept exists with regard to the 
other Sacraments, still confession as a fitting 
preparation for every one of them cannot be too 
urgently recommended. 

READINGS : Besides the current text-books consult St. Thomas, 
Summa Theol., 3a, qu. 64, and the commentators, especially *Billu- 
art, De Sacramentis in Genere, diss. i, art. 2 sqq. Likewise Am- 
brosius Catharinus, De Necessaria Intentione in Perficiendis Sa 
cramentis, Rome 1552; Serry, De Necessaria Intentione in Sacra 
mentis Coniiciendis, Padua 1727; L. Haas, Die notwendige In 
tention des Ministers zur gilltigen Verwaltung der hi. Sakra- 
mente, Bamberg 1869; *Franzelin, De Sacramentis in Genere, thes. 
15 sqq.; P. Schanz, Die Lehre von den hi. Sakramenten, n, Frei 
burg 1893. Additional bibliographical information in *Fr. Mor- 
gott, Der Spender der hi. Sakramente nach der Lehre des hi. 
Thomas, Freiburg 1886. 

Concerning the requisites of worthy reception cfr. Suarez, 
Comment, in S. Theol., Ill, disp. 14 sqq.; *De Lugo, De Sacra 
mentis in Genere, disp. 9; Tournely, De Sacramentis in Genere, 
qu. 8; Schanz, op. cit., 12; N. Gihr, Die hi. Sakramente der 
kath. Kirche, Vol. i, 2nd ed., 23, Freiburg 1902. 

10 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa man or divine, which imposes any 
Theol., 33., qu. 79, art. 8. obligation on the faithful in general 

11 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. XIII, to confess venial sins. The divine 
cap. 7: Of course this law "only law does not do this, as the Council 
affects those who have fallen into of Trent explains (Sess. XIV, c. 5), 
mortal sin, so that, although venial and the Lateran law only determines 
sin may be confessed and affords the divine law." (Slater, A Man* 

cnfl-ir*i*Mt rn itf^f ff\r carram^nt al ttnl f*f Msirnl TliPnlnw \7n1 T. tv 


The Catechism of the Council of Trent defines 
Baptism as "the Sacrament of regeneration by 
water in the word." 1 

This definition has been amplified by Catholic 
theologians as follows: "Baptism is a Sacra 
ment instituted by Christ, in which, by the out 
ward washing of the body with water, with in 
vocation of the Three Persons of the Most Holy 
Trinity, man is spiritually reborn and sanctified 
unto life everlasting." 

Hence the names: /?a7mayxo s (from /JctTi-reiv, to im 
merse), " laver of regeneration ; " </>o>Tto-/xa, i. e. " illumina 
tion," " tinctio," etc. 2 Baptismns is sometimes used by 
the early Fathers to designate not only Baptism proper, 
but the anointing and laying-on of hands peculiar to the 
Sacrament of Confirmation. It is not true, however, as 
Harnack asserts, that Confirmation developed into an 
independent Sacrament by "a despoliation of the bap 
tismal rite." 3 

i P. II, cap, 2, n. 5: "Sacra- Sakramenten, Vol. I, i, Minister 

mentum regeneration s per aquam 1894. 
in verbo." 3 Dogmengeschichte, Vol. I, 3rd 

a The term tinctio is frequently ed., p. 358. See Dolger, Das Sakra- 

used by Tertullian. Cfr. Oswald, went der Firmung, pp. i sqq., Vien- 

Die dogmatische Lehre von den hi. na 1906. 




Baptism is a true Sacrament because it was in 
stituted by Jesus Christ as an external sign for the 
communication of internal grace. 




The Council of Trent defines: "If any one 
saith that the Sacraments of the New Law were 
not all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, or that 
they are more or less than seven, to wit: Bap 
tism, etc., ... or even that any one of these 
seven is not truly and properly a Sacrament, let 
him be anathema/ * 

ing Harnack s assertion that "it cannot be shown 
that Jesus instituted Baptism/ 2 a perfectly con 
clusive argument for the divine institution of this 
Sacrament may be construed from Scripture and 

a) In the Old Testament Baptism was prefig 
ured as a true Sacrament by many important 
types, e. g., circumcision, the deluge, the passage 
of the Chosen People through the Red Sea, etc. 3 

l Sess. VII, De Sacram., can. i : proprie sacr amentum, anathema 

"Si quis dixerit, sacr amenta Novae sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 844). 
Legis non fuisse omnia a lesu 2 Dogmengcschichte, Vol. I, 2nd 

Christo instituta out esse plura vel ed., p. 68, n. 3, Freiburg 1894. 
paudora quam septem, vid. baptis- 3 Cfr. St. Ambrose, De Myst., cap. 

mum, etc., . . . out et iam aliquod 3. 
horum septem non esse vere et 



Cf r. Ez. XXXVI, 25 : "I will pour out upon you clean 
water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthi- 
ness." 4 

Zach. XIII, i : "In that day [of the Messianic king 
dom] there shall be a fountain open to the house of David, 
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for the washing of 
the sinner and of the unclean woman." 5 

When John the Baptist told the priests and Levites who 
had been sent from Jerusalem to question him, that he was 
not the Christ, they wonderingly inquired : " Why then 
dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the 
prophet ? " 6 John explained that he baptized not as the 
future Messias would baptize, i. e. " with the Holy Ghost," 
but merely as a preparation for His coming. " I indeed 
baptize you in water unto penance, but he that shall soon 
come after me, is mightier than I, ... he shall baptize 
you in the Holy Ghost and fire/ 7 

Shortly after Christ began His public life, He 
came to the Jordan and was baptized by John, 8 
thereby, as the Fathers explain, communicating 
to the baptismal water the power of forgiving 
sins. In his discourse with Nicodemus, Jesus de 
clared that "unless a man be born again of water 
and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the 
kingdom of God." At His command the dis- 

4 Ez. XXXVI, 25: " Effundam tizas, si tu non es Christus neque 
super vos aquam mundam et mun- Elias neque propheta? " 
dabimini ab omnibus inquinamentis 7 Matth. Ill, n: " Ego quidem 
vestris." baptiso vos in aqua in poeniten- 

5 Zach. XIII, i: "In die ilia erit tiam; qui autem post me venturus 
fans patens domui David et habit an- cst, fortior me est, . . . ipse vos 
tibus Jerusalem in ablutionem pec- baptisabit in Spiritu Sancto et igni." 
catoris et menstruatae." 8 Cfr. Matth. Ill, 13. 

6 John I, 25: "Quid ergo bap- John III, 5: " Nisi quis rena- 


ciples also baptized with water. 10 Before His 
Ascension He commanded them to go into the 
whole world, to preach the gospel to all men, and 
to baptize. "All power is given to me in heaven 
and on earth. Going therefore, teach ye all na 
tions, baptizing them in the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 1X 

b) How firmly the belief in the divine institu 
tion of Baptism was rooted among the faithful 
in the primitive Church, is clear from the fact 
that, with but few exceptions, 12 all heretical sects 
admitted the Sacrament, though some of them 
misunderstood its nature or denied its necessity. 

This well-nigh universal consensus renders it superflu 
ous to work out a detailed argument from Tradition. We 
will merely adduce a passage from Tertullian. Com 
menting on the opposition between the Old and New 
Testaments, that writer says : " In days gone by there 
was salvation by means of bare faith, before the passion 
of the Lord. But now that the faith has been enlarged, 
. . . there has been an amplification of the Sacrament, 
[namely], the sealing act of Baptism. . . . For the 
law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula pre 
scribed: Go, saith [Jesus], teach all nations, baptizing 

tus fuerit ex aqua et Spiritu Sancto, bach, Der trinitarische Taufbefehl 

non potest introire in regnum Dei." nach seiner urspriinglichen Textge- 

lOCfr. John III, 26. stall und seiner Authentic, Giiters- 

11 Matth. XXVIII, 19: "Data loh 1903, and the Journal of Theo- 

est tnihi omnis potestas in coelo et logical Studies, 1905, pp. 481 sqq. 

in terra. Eiintes ergo docete omnes 12 The only exceptions we know 

gentes baptizantes eos in nomine of, are the ancient Gnostics and 

Patris et Filii et Spirit us Sancti." Manichaeans, certain spiritualistic 

(Cfr. Mark XVI, 15 sq.). On the sects of the Middle Ages, and the 

authenticity of this text see Riggen- modern Socinians. 


them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of 
the Holy Ghost." 13 

While the Fathers and theologians are unani 
mous regarding the fact of the divine institution 
of Baptism, they differ as to the precise time when 
this Sacrament was instituted. 

a) Some 14 think that Baptism was instituted on Ascen 
sion day, when our Lord said to His disciples : " Going 
therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name 
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 15 
The advocates of this view contend that the institution 
of a Sacrament is a legislative act, and that no such act 
with regard to Baptism is on record anywhere in the Gos 
pels outside of Matth. XXVIII, 19. This agrees with the 
idea that the Church was formally established on Pente 
cost, and that it was only after its formal establishment 
that Baptism became necessary as a " door of entrance " 
into the Church. 

It is objected to this view that the Apostles were alike 
Christians and priests before Christ s Passion and death, 
and that the power of consecrating bread and wine, which 
they received at the Last Supper, manifestly supposes that 
they were baptized. The defenders of the theory just 

13 DC Bapt., c. 13: "Retro qui- 14 Tertullian (De Bapt., c. u 

dem salus fuit per fidetn nudam sqq.), St. Chrysostom (Horn, in loa., 

ante Domini passionem. At ubi 28), St. Leo the Great (Ep. 16 ad 

fides aucta est credendi, addita es t Sic. Episc.), Alexander of Hales 

ampliatio sacramenti: obsignatio bap- (Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 4, qu. 

tismi. . . . Lex enim tingendi im- 12, m. 3, art. i), Melchior Cano 

posita est et forma praescripta: lie, (De Locis Theol., VIII, 5), Ber- 

inquit, docete omnes nationes, tin- lage, Oswald, Bisping, Schanz, et 

gentes eas in nomine Patris et Filii al. 

et Spiritus Sancti." Further Pa- 15 Matth. XXVIII, 19. 
tristic texts infra, No. 2. 


outlined reply that a mere act of the will on the part of 
the God-man was sufficient to make the Apostles Chris 
tians, nay priests and bishops, and that the only one who 
needed Baptism was St. Paul, because he came later. 
Cfr. Acts IX, 18: " And rising up, he was baptized." 16 

b) Others hold that our Lord instituted the Sacrament 
of Baptism before His sacred passion, either at the 
time of His own Baptism by St. John, or in his discourse 
with Nicodemus. 17 That the act of institution began with 
Christ s own Baptism as terminus a quo, was the opinion 
of such eminent Fathers as St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. 
Augustine, and St. Ambrose. 18 It is also the teaching of 
St. Thomas. " A Sacrament is then instituted," he says, 
" when it receives the power of producing its effect. Now 
Baptism received this power when Christ was baptized. 
Consequently Baptism, considered as a Sacrament, was 
truly instituted at that time." 19 

Suarez 20 explains this more fully as follows : What 
happened when our Lord was baptized in the Jordan was 
merely the designation of matter and form. The formal 
institution of the Sacrament required a positive act or 
command, which must have followed soon after, as we 
read in the third and fourth chapters of St. John s Gospel 
that the disciples of Jesus baptized. 21 The Baptism they 

16 Act. IX, 18: " Et surgens catum non novit, baptismatis ius 
baptisatus est." haberent." 

17 That the Sacrament of Baptism 19 Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 66, art. 
was instituted by our Lord in 2: " Tune videtur aliquod sacra- 
His discourse with Nicodemus, mentum institui, quando accipit vir- 
was held by very few theologians, tutem producendi suum effectum. 
notably St. Bernard and Estius. Hanc autem virtutem accepit bap- 
Modern writers quite generally re- tismus, quando Christus est bap- 
ject this view because of the private tizatus. Unde tune vere baptismus 
character of that discourse. institutus fuit quantum ad ipsum 

18 In Luc., 1. II, n. 83: "Bap- sacramentum." 

tizatus est ergo Dominus non mun- 20 De Sacram., disp. 19, sect. 2, n. 

dari volens, sed mundare aquas, ut 3. 

ablutae per carnem Christi, quae pec- 21 John III, 26; IV, 2. 


administered cannot have been a mere Baptism of prose 
lytes, nor yet a Baptism unto penance, like that of the 
Precursor, but it must have been that Baptism " in the 
Holy Ghost and fire " which John himself had so sharply 
distinguished from his own. 22 

According to this theory, therefore, the institution of 
the Sacrament of Baptism coincides with the beginning 
of our Lord s public career. 23 Scotus says : " The dis 
ciples of Christ baptized before the passion; whence it 
follows that the Sacrament was instituted before that 
event, though the Gospel tells us nothing about the exact 
time." 24 

There is an ancient legend that Jesus Himself bap 
tized St. Peter, St. Peter baptized St. Andrew and the 
sons of Zebedee, and these in turn baptized the remaining 
Apostles, while the seventy disciples received the Sacra- 
rament at the hands of Peter and John. 25 

c) Which of the opinions just reviewed is the more 
probable one? Both are supported by solid arguments. 
Sacramental Baptism may have been instituted by our 
Lord before His Passion without those characteristics of 
universality and necessity (necessitas medii) which at 
tached to it after the Ascension. It was only when He 
spoke the words : " Euntes ergo," etc., that He solemnly 
promulgated this Sacrament as an indispensable means of 
salvation for all men. Hence the two views can easily be 

22 Cfr. Matth. Ill, n; Mark I, cipuli Christi baptizabant, licet hora 
8; Luke III, 16; John I, 33. institutionis non legatur in Evan- 

23 Cfr. J. Grimm, Das Leben gelio." Similarly Gabriel Biel, 
Jesti, Vol. II, pp. 364 sq., Ratisbon Suarez, Holzklau (.Wirceb.), and 
1878. more recently Chr. Pesch (Prae- 

24 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 3, lect. Dogmat., Vol. VI, 3rd ed., p. 
qu. 4: " Discipuli Christi ante pas- 156, Freiburg 1908). 

sionem Ckristi baptisabant. Con- 25 Cfr. Nicephorus Callistus, Hist, 

vincitur ergo tempus institutionis Eccles., II, 3. 
fuisse ante illud tempus, quo dis- 


reconciled by assuming that Baptism was instituted for a 
limited circle and without superseding circumcision, at 
the beginning of our Saviour s public career, but was not 
solemnly promulgated nor invested with the characteris 
tics of universality and necessity until after His Ascen 
sion. St. Bonaventure, finding a grain of truth in each 
of these hypotheses, happily blends them as follows: 
" When was Baptism instituted ? With regard to its mat 
ter, it was instituted at the time when Christ was baptized 
in the Jordan; with regard to its form, when He arose 
from the dead and designated the form (Matth. XXVIII, 
19) ; with regard to its effects, when He suffered, because 
it is from His passion that the virtue of the Sacrament 
springs; and with regard to its final end and object, when 
He foretold its necessity and utility by saying (John 
III, 5) : Unless a man be born again/ etc." 26 

26 Comment, in loa., c. 3, n. 19: virtutem; sed finaliter, guum eius 

" Quando institutus est baptismus? necessitatem praedixit et utilitatem 

Dicendum quod materialiter, quum (loa. Ill, 5) : Nisi quis renatus 

baptizatus fuit Christus; formaliter, fuerit, etc." Cfr. the Innsbruck 

quum resurrexit et formam dedit Zeitschrift fur kath. Theologie, 1905, 

(Matth. XXVIII, 19); effective, pp. 53 sqq. 
quum passus fuit, quia inde habuit 



According to Catholic teaching the remote matter of 
Baptism is natural water ; its proximate matter is the act 
of external washing; while the sacramental form is con 
tained in the words : " I baptize thee in the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 

BAPTISM. By natural water (aqua naturalis) is 
meant a liquid compound of hydrogen and oxy 
gen in the proportion of two to one. This defini 
tion excludes artificial compounds such as eau de 
Cologne, as well as water in other than liquid 
form, e. g. steam or ice. 1 That natural water is 
indispensable for the validity of Baptism has been 
clearly defined by the Tridentine Council: "If 
any one saith that true and natural water is not 
of necessity for Baptism, ... let him be ana 
thema." This declaration excludes the figura 
tive use of the term "water/ as employed by the 
later Socinians, and denies Luther s assertion that 

1 Cfr. the Catechismus Romanus, n. 858): "Si quis dixerit, aquam 
P. II, c. 2, n. 7. veram et naturalem non esse de 

2 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, De necessitate praecepti, . . . anathema 
Bapt., can. 2 (Denzinger-Bannwart, sit." 



any liquid that can be used to bathe in, is valid 
matter for Baptism. 3 

a) The Old Testament types clearly point to natural 
water as the element of the future Sacrament of Bap 
tism. Such types are, e. g., the deluge, 4 the passage of 
the Israelites through the Red Sea, 5 the stream of water 
which Moses drew from the rock in the desert, etc. The 
prophetical " fons patens" in the passage quoted from 
Zacharias 6 obviously refers to the baptismal font of the 
New Law. John and the disciples baptized with ordinary 
water. Jesus Christ descended into the river Jordan to 
receive Baptism. Wherever the New Testament men 
tions the Sacrament of regeneration, it invariably speaks 
of water. Cf r. John III, 5 : " Unless a man be born 
again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into 
the kingdom of heaven." When Philip and the eunuch 
of Queen Candace " came to a certain water," the latter 
exclaimed : " See, here is water : what doth hinder me 
from being baptized ? " 7 

The Baptism " of fire and the Holy Ghost," of which 
the Precursor speaks, does not denote an outward rite but 
refers to the spiritual effect of the Sacrament administered 
in the name of Christ. 8 

b) The Catholic Church has always conscien 
tiously adhered, both in theory and practice, to the 
use of natural water as the only valid element of 

3 "... quidquid balnei loco esse 6 Zach. XIII, i (supra, p. 205, n. 5). 
possit, illud aptum esse ad baptizan- T Acts VIII, 36: " Ecce aqua, 
dum." The passage occurs in his quid prohibet me baptizari? " Cfr. 
Table Talk. Cfr. Pallavicini, Hist. Acts X, 47; Eph. V, 26. 

Cone. Trident., IX, 7. 8 Cfr. Ansaldi, O. P., De Bap- 

4 i Pet. Ill, 20 sqq. tismate in Spiritu Sancto et Igni, 
6 i Cor. X, 2 sqq. Milan 1752. 


Tertullian exclaims : " O happy Sacrament of our wa 
ter, by which, cleansed of the faults of pristine blindness, 
we are made free unto eternal life ! " 9 

St. Augustine says: " What is the Baptism of Christ? 
A bath in the word. Take away the water, and there is 
no Baptism; take away the word, and there is no Bap 
tism." 10 

The Fathers of the Church were familiar with the cere 
mony of blessing the baptismal font. 11 

St. Cyprian writes : " Therefore it behooves water to 
be first cleansed and sanctified by a priest, in order that 
by his Baptism he may be able to wash away the sins of 
him who is baptized." 12 

St. Gregory of Nyssa says : " The sanctified water 
cleanses and illumines a man." 13 

It was because of her firm conviction that water is the 
necessary element of Baptism that the Church condemned 
the practice of baptizing with oil, introduced by the 
Gnostic sect of the Marcosians, or with fire, as affected 
by the Jacobites and Cathari in the Middle Ages, or with 
beer, as attempted by certain Norwegians. 14 

c) Speculative theology has discovered a va 
riety of reasons showing the fitness of water to 

9 De Bapt., c. i, n. i: "Felix mundari et sanctificari aquam prius 
sacramentum aquae nostrae, qua a sacerdote, ut possit baptismo suo 
abluti delictis pristinae caecitatis peccata hominis, qui baptizatur, 
in vitam aeternam liberamur! " abluere." 

10 Tract, in loa., 15, n. 4: 13 Or. de Bapt. Christi: vdup 
" Quid est baptismus Christi? ev\oyov/j.evov KaQaipei /ecu (fxari^ei 
Lavacrum aquae in verbo. Tolle rbv &vdpo}Trov- On certain exag- 
aquani, non est baptismus; tolle ver- gerated notions current in Patristic 
bum, non est baptismus." days with regard to the efficacy of 

11 On the antiquity of this cere- the water " sanctified " for Bap- 
mony consult Probst, Sakramente tism, see Pourrat, La Theologie So 
und Sakramentalien in den erstcn cramentaire, pp. 47 sqq., Paris 1910 
drei Jahrhunderten, pp. 74 sqq., (English tr., pp. 56 sq.). 
Tubingen 1872. 14 Cfr. the letter addressed by 

12 Ep., 70, i : " Oportet ergo Pope Gregory IX to the bishops of 


serve as the element of Baptism. We will men 
tion only a few. 

a) Baptism, being a Sacrament instituted for the for 
giveness of sins, requires an element which symbolizes 
both the dissolution and removal of moral filth and the 
healing of the soul. Now water is not only the ordinary 
and most effective means of cleansing, but it is likewise 
a medicine and a preservative of health. Pindar s saw 
Apioroi/ nev v8up, embodies the universal conviction of 
mankind. Water, moreover, is by nature cool and re 
freshing, and consequently well adapted to serve as a sym 
bol of grace, which extinguishes the fire of concupiscence. 
It was quite natural, therefore, for the Jews to employ 
water as an element of purification in their religious 
ceremonies, 15 and for the Gentiles to use it in their mystic 
ablutions. 16 Such usages clearly speak for the Catholic 
doctrine. 17 

/3) As the Sacrament of " regeneration," whence the 
term " neophytes " for those recently baptized, Baptism 
furthermore requires an element that serves an important 
purpose in organic nature. Water is indispensable for the 
growth of plants and animals. Gen. I, 2 : " And the 
spirit of God moved [the Hebrew text has * brooded ] 
over the waters." The fact that the foetus of mammals, 
birds, and reptiles is enclosed in a " water bag " (amnion), 
led some of the Fathers, e. g. St. Chrysostom, to compare 
the baptismal font with the womb. 18 Then there are crea 
tures that can live only in water, and since Baptism, 
being " the first and most necessary Sacrament," is as in- 

Norway, in Raynald, Annales EC- times and among non-Christian na- 

cles. ad annum 1241, n. 42. tions, consult Oswald, Die dogma- 

15 Cfr. Numb. VIII, 7. tische Lehre von den hi. Sakra- 

leCfr. Tertullian, De Bapt., c. 5. menien, sth ed., i. 

17 On Baptism in pre-Christian 18 V. supra, pp. 130 sq. 


dispensable to the supernatural life of the soul as water 
is to the natural life of fish, Tertullian appropriately com 
pares the faithful to " little fishes," who are born in water 
and move in it as their vital element. 19 

The fact that no natural element is so easily available as 
water also points to the necessity of Baptism for salva 

MATTER OF BAPTISM. Baptism is administered 
by means of washing, i. e. applying the water to 
the subject. This application must be a true ablu 
tion (ablutio vera), i. e. it must involve a contact 
that is both physical and successive. In other 
words, the baptismal water must actually touch 
the body and flow over it. 

This twofold contact can be effected by immersion, 
effusion, and aspersion. The validity of the present 
practice of effusion has been indirectly defined against 
the schismatic Greeks by the Council of Trent : " If 
any one saith that in the Roman Church, which is the 
mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true 
doctrine concerning the Sacrament of Baptism, let him be 
anathema." 20 

a) The very name baptismus (derived from 
/?a7rrv, to immerse) , as well as St. Paul s use of the 

19 De Bapt., c. i : " Sed nos " Si quis dixerit, in Ecclesia Roma- 
pisculi secundum fyOvv nostrum na, quae omnium ecclesiarum mater 
lesum Christum in aqua nascimur, est et magistra, non esse veram de 
nee aliter quam in aqua perma- baptismi sacramento doctrinam, 
nendo salvi sumus." anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bann- 

20 Sess. VII, De Bapt., can. 3: wart, n. 859). 


term "laver of water/ 21 indicate that Baptism 
was originally accomplished by immersion. 

However, since the Baptism of the three thousand con 
verts on Pentecost Day, 22 and that of the keeper of the 
prison and his family by Paul and Silas, 23 can hardly be 
supposed to have taken place by immersion, it is likely that 
already in the Apostolic age Baptism was sometimes con 
ferred by effusion or aspersion. 

b) That washing with water is the materia 
proximo, of Baptism cannot be proved from Sa 
cred Scripture, but it can be convincingly demon 
strated from Tradition. 

Tertullian describes Baptism as " a sprinkling with any 
kind of water." 24 

St. Augustine declares that Baptism has the power of 
forgiving sins even if the water " merely sprinkles the 
child ever so slightly." 25 

A convincing proof for the antiquity of Baptism by 
effusion is furnished by the so-called " baptismus clini- 
corum " (rj K\ivr), bed), which was always administered in 
that way. 26 When a certain Magnus professed to have 
scruples of conscience regarding this mode of administer 
ing the Sacrament, St. Cyprian assured him that it was 
perfectly valid. 27 

21 Eph. V, 26: rw Xourpw rov tern etiam tantillum wiundet infan- 
vdaros. tern." 

22 Acts II, 41. 26 Cfr. Eusebius, Hist. Eccl, VI, 
28 Acts XVI, 33. 43; Martene, De Antiquis Ecclesiae 

24 De Bapt., c. 6: " una aspergio Ritibits, I, i, 14. 

cuiuslibet aquae." 27 Ep., 69, n. 12, ed. Hartel, II, 

25 Tract, in loa., 80, n. 3: " Hoc 761: " Nee quemquam mover e debct 
verbum fidei tantum valet in EC- quod aspergi vel perfundi videntur 
clesia Dei, ut per ipsum . . . tingen- aegri, quum gratiam dominicam con- 


Baptism by effusion was regarded as equally valid with 
Baptism by immersion long before the time of St. Cy 
prian. The famous Didache (Doctrina XII Aposto- 
lorum), rediscovered in 1883 and ascribed to the time of 
the Emperor Nerva (d. 98), says : " Baptize in the name 
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, in 
running water; but if thou hast no running water, bap 
tize in other water, and if thou canst not in cold, then in 
warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water three times 
on the head in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 

and of the Holy Ghost (CK^OV cts rr/v K</>aAr/v rpts vSuip cis 

V V \ e ~ v e / / \ * *s 

ovo/xa Trarpos KCU viov KCH ayiov TTrev/xarosJ. 

c) A few observations on the history of the 
various methods of administering Baptism may 
prove useful. 

a) During the first twelve centuries Baptism was gen 
erally administered by immersion. Three times in suc 
cession the candidate was plunged entirely in water by 
the baptizing bishop or priest, assisted by deacons, or, in the 
case of adult females, by deaconesses. Numerous ancient 
baptisteries (fontes sacri, KoAv//.jfo?0p<u) in various parts of 
the western world attest the antiquity of this custom. 
The Greeks (Russians, Bulgarians, etc.) have retained 
Baptism by immersion, though they no longer practice it 
in its pure form, but dip the child in warm water up to 

sequantur, quando Scriptura sancta On a painting in the catacombs which 

per Ezechielem prophetam dicat: illustrates this passage cfr. De 

Aspergam super vos aquam mun- Rossi, Roma Sotteranea, Vol. I, p. 

dam. Unde apparct, aspersionem 334, Rome 1867. Rogers (Baptism 

quoque aquae instar salutaris lavacri and Christian Archaeology, London 

obtinere." 1903) is evidently mistaken when he 

28 Doctrina XII Apost., c. 7, ed. asserts that immersion is the oldest 

Funk, p. 23, Tubingen 1887; Eng- form of Baptism. Cfr. Ermoni, Le 

lish tr. by Kirsopp Lake, The Apos- Bapteme dans I Eglise Primitive, 

tolic Fathers in the Loeb Classical Paris 1904. 
Library, pp. 320 sq., London 1912. 


the neck and then pour water over his head. 29 Despite 
the complaint of Marcus Eugenicus of Ephesus, the Ori 
entals at the Council of Florence (1439) raised no ob 
jection to the Latin mode of baptizing, though to-day they 
regard it as invalid. 30 

Baptism by immersion was still the rule in Western 
Christendom at the time of St. Thomas, for he says in 
the third part of the Summa: " Although it is safer to 
baptize by immersion, because this is the more ordinary 
fashion, yet Baptism can be conferred by sprinkling or 
also by pouring . . ." 31 

In Spain, which had been overrun by the Arian Visi 
goths, a single immersion was substituted for the three 
formerly employed, in order to illustrate Catholic belief 
in the unity of the Godhead in three Persons. St. Martin 
of Bracara (d. 580) decried this practice as Sabellian, 32 
but it was approved by Pope Gregory the Great (d. 604) 
and formally prescribed by the Fourth Council of Toledo 


/?) Baptism by effusion gradually came into use in 
the thirteenth century, and finally replaced Baptism 
by immersion entirely in the West. St. Charles Borro- 
meo still prescribed the ancient form of trine im 
mersion for the churches of the Ambrosian rite, and this 
form continued to be widely used in Europe up to the 
sixteenth century. The reasons for the universal adop 
tion of the change probably were the difficulties arising 

29 Cfr. Denzinger, Rit. Orient., 7 : " Quamvis tutius sit baptizare 
Vol. I, p. 235, 287, Wurzburg 1863; per modum immersionis, quia hoc 
Goar, Euchologium s. Rituale Grae- habet communior usus, potest tamen 
corum, in bapt. off. not. 24, Paris fieri baptismus per modum asper- 
1647. sionis vel etiam per modum infu- 

30 Cfr. Synod. Lot. IV, c. 4 sionis." 

(1215), in Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 32 Cfr. Bardenhewer-Shahan, Pa- 

435. trology, p. 659, St. Louis 1908. 

Si Summa Theol., 33, qu. 66, art. 


in cold countries and in regard to the immersion of 
women. When Europe had become entirely Christian, 
and there were no longer any adult pagans, the institute 
of deaconesses ceased to exist. 

The method of baptizing by aspersion has never ac 
quired practical importance, and the discussion of its 
validity is therefore purely academic. 33 

OF BAPTISM. The form of Baptism consists in 
the words accompanying the ablution. There 
are two essential parts: (i) the verbal designa 
tion of the baptismal act, and (2) the express in 
vocation of the three Persons of the Most Holy 

The Decretum pro Armenis of Eugene IV 
says : "The form is : I baptize thee in the name 
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Ghost/ . . . because when the act is expressed, 
which is performed by the minister with the invo 
cation of the Holy Trinity, the Sacrament is ac 
complished/ 34 

a) The necessity of a baptismal formula is in 
dicated by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians : 

33 For further information on the sein apostolischer Ursprung und 

various ways of baptizing and their seine Entwicklung, Freiburg 1903. 

history the student may consult the 34 " Forma autem est : Ego te 

treatise on " Die Entstehung der baptizo in nomine Patris et Filii et 

heutigen Taufform," in Funk s Kir- Spiritus Sancti . . .; quoniam si 

chengeschichtliche Abhandlungen exprimitur actus, qui per ipsum ex- 

und Untersuchnngen,, Vol. I, ercetur ministrum cum SS. Trinita- 

pp. 478 sqq., Paderborn 1897; tis invocatione, perficitur sacramen- 

also A. Staerk, Der Taufritus turn." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 

in der griechisch-russischen Kir die, 696). 


". . . cleansing it by the laver of water in the 
word of life." 35 

The words of our Lord : ". . . baptizing them in the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Ghost," 3G have always been understood by the Church 
not merely as a command to baptize, but as embodying 
the formula of Baptism. This is the unanimous teaching 
of Tradition. Tertullian writes : " The law of baptizing 
has been imposed, and the formula prescribed : Go, 
He saith, teach the nations/ etc." 8T St. Cyprian says : 
" Christ Himself commanded the nations to be baptized in 
the full and undivided Trinity." 38 St. Ambrose instructs 
his catechumens that " Unless a man is baptized in the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Ghost, he cannot receive remission of his sins nor the gift 
of spiritual grace." 39 St. Augustine asks : " Who is 
there who does not know that there is no Baptism of 
Christ, if the words of the Gospel, in which consists the 
outward visible sign, are lacking? " 40 St. Basil denies the 
validity of Baptism if conferred merely " in the name 
of the Lord," because, he says, " as we believe in the 
Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, so, too, we are 
baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of 
the Holy Ghost." 41 St. Chrysostom, in his explanation 

35 Eph. V, 26: ". . . tnundans 39 De Myst., c. 4, n. 20: "Nisi 
lavacro aquae in verbo vitae." baptizatus fuerit in nomine Patris 

36 Matth. XXVIII, 19: "...bap- et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, retnis- 
tizantes eos in nomine Patris et sionem non potest accipere pecca- 
Filii et Spiritus Sancti." torum nee spiritualis gratiae vnunus 

37 De Bapt., c. 13: " Lex tingendi haurire." 

imposita est et forma praescripta : 40 De Bapt., VI, 25, 47: " Quis 

lie, inquit, docete nationes, etc." nesciat non esse baptismum Christi, 

38 Ep. 73 ad lubai., n. 18, ed. si verba evangelica, quibus sym- 

Hartel, II, 791: " Ipse Christus bolum constat, illic defuerintf " 
gentes baptizari iubet in plena et 41 De Spiritu Sancto, c. 12. 

adunata Trinitate." 


of Eph. V, 26, observes : " In the laver of water he 
cleanses him from his impurity. In the word, he says. 
In what word? In the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 42 

b) In connection with this subject theologians 
are wont to discuss two incidental problems, vis.: 
What was the meaning of Baptism "in the name 
of Jesus/ of which we read in the Acts of the 
Apostles? and: In how far may the prescribed 
baptismal formula be altered without affecting 
the validity of the Sacrament? 

a) Did the Apostles baptize validly when they bap 
tized " in the name of Jesus " ? 4S Opinions differ on this 
question. Peter Lombard says : " He who baptizes in 
the name of Christ, baptizes in the name of the Trinity, 
which is thereby understood ; " but he cautiously adds : 
" It is, however, safer to name the Three Persons ex 
pressly." 44 The majority of theologians dissent from 
this view. They hold that the Apostles employed the 
formula " In the name of Jesus " by virtue of an extra 
ordinary privilege. St. Thomas says : " It was by a 
special revelation from Christ that in the primitive Church 
the Apostles baptized in the name of Christ, in order that 
the name of Christ, which was hateful to Jews and Gen 
tiles, might become an object of veneration, in that the 
Holy Ghost was given in Baptism at the invocation of that 
name." 45 Since the Tridentine Council the more general 

42 Horn, in Ep. ad Eph., 20. Cfr. in nomine Trinitatis, quae ibi intel- 
St. John Damascene, De Fide Orth. t ligitur. Tutius est tamen, tres per- 
IV, 9. sonas ibi notninare." 

43 Cfr. Gal. Ill, 27; Acts II, 38; 45 Summa Theol, 3, qu. 66, art. 
VIII, 12 , X, 48. 6: " Dicendum quod ex speciali 

44 Sent., IV, dist. 3: " Qui crtjo Christi revelations Apostoli in pri- 
baptisat in nomine Christi, baptizat mitira Ecclesia in nomine Christi 


opinion 46 is that Baptism in the name of Jesus, in contra 
distinction to the " Baptism of penance " which the Pre 
cursor administered, 47 received its name not from the ex 
ternal rite but from its institution by Christ; in other 
words that in baptizing in the name of Christ the Apos 
tles meant to baptize by His authority. This is not a new 
theory, but was held by many of the early Fathers. 48 
Though the Roman Catechism 49 attempts to justify the 
view that " there was a time when, by the inspiration of 
the Holy Ghost, the Apostles baptized in the name of our 
Lord Jesus Christ only," we do not deem it prudent, 
without stringent proofs to admit such a radical distinc 
tion between the baptismal practice of Apostolic and that 
of post-Apostolic times. It is true that Pope Nicholas I 
(d. 867) seems to have admitted the validity of Baptism in 
the name of Christ, 50 but his letter to the Bulgarians, in 
which he expresses this opinion, is not an ex cathedra de 
cision ; 51 and even if it were, the fact would prove noth 
ing, because in the case of the Bulgarians the question at 
issue was not the formula of Baptism but the qualifica 
tions required in the minister. 52 

baptizabant, ut nomen Christi, quod Fabian., fragm. 37), Origen (In Ep. 

erat odiosum ludaeis et gentibus, ad Rom., 1. 5; Migne, P. G., XIV, 

honor abile redder etur per hoc, quod 1039), St. Basil (De Spiritu S., c. 

ad eius invocationem Spiritus Sane- 12), St. Chrysostom (Horn, in 2 

tus dabatur in baptismo." This Cor., XXX, 13, 13). 

opinion is shared by St. Bede, Alber- 49 P. II, c. 2, n. 15 sq. 

tus Magnus, St. Bonaventure, so " A quodam ludaeo . . . mul- 

Scotus, Cajetan, Toletus, Orsi, et al. tos in patria vestra baptizatos as- 

46 Among those who espouse this seritis et quid de Us sit agendum 
teaching are Melchior Cano, Dom. consulitis. Hi profecto, si in no- 
Soto, Cardinal Bellarmine, Suarez, mine S. Trinitatis vel tantum in 
Vasquez, Tournely, and nearly all Christi nomine . . . baptisati sunt, 
modern theologians. constat eos non esse denuo baptisan- 

47 Cfr. Acts XIX, i sqq. dos." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 

48 Among others, St. Cyprian (Ep. 335). 

73 ad lubai., n. 17, ed. Hartel, II, 51 See Hergenrother s Antijanus, 

791), St. Augustine (Contra Maxim., p. 55, Freiburg 1869. 

II, 17, i), St. Fulgentius (C. 52 For further details on this sub- 


(3) Alterations in the formula of Baptism may or may 
not affect its substance. Substantial changes render the 
Sacrament invalid ; purely accidental changes do not. It 
would be a substantial change, for instance, to omit all 
reference to the act performed, or to neglect to invoke the 
Three Persons of the Trinity. Hence we may distinguish 
three groups of formulas : ( i ) such as are certainly in 
valid, (2) such as are undoubtedly valid, and (3) such 
as are doubtful. 

(1) Alexander III decided that it would render Bap 
tism invalid to omit the words : " I baptize thee," and 
simply to say : " In the name of the Father," etc. 53 As 
all Three Divine Persons must be expressly mentioned, it 
would likewise be invalid to baptize " in the name of the 
Most Holy Trinity." The Montanist formula : " I baptize 
thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of 
Montanus and Priscilla," was plainly invalid. But even 
when all Three Persons are expressly named, Baptism 
would still be invalid if the minister would intro 
duce a phrase embodying an anti-Trinitarian heresy, 54 
e. g., " I baptize thee in the name^ of the Father, and of 
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 55 

(2) Any baptismal formula that meets the two require 
ments mentioned, is valid, even though it show ac 
cidental variations from the approved text, as does, for 
instance, the Greek formula : Ba7m erai 6 SouAos rov 

cov (6 Setras) C65 TO oVo/xa rov Trarpos /cat rov viov KOL rov 

ayiov TiW/xaros, the validity of which is expressly admitted 

ject cfr. Melchior Cano, De Locis Bapt. : " Si qiiis puerum ter in aqua 

Theol., VI, 8; I. A. Orsi, De tnerserit in nomine Patris et Filii et 

Baptismo in Nomine lesu, Florence Spiritus Sancti, . . . et non dixerit : 

1743; Heitmuller, Im Namen Jesu, Ego te baptizo/ puer non est bap- 

1905; H. Koch, Die Taunehrc des tisatus," 

Liber de Rebaptismate, pp. 16 sqq., 04 Tritheism, Arianism, etc. 

Braunsberg 1907. 55 " Baptizo te in nominibus Patris 

53 C. " Si quis," i Extrav., De et Filii et Spiritus Sancti." 


in the Decretum pro Armenis. Valid, though illicit, are 
all those formulas in which some non-essential word or 
phrase is either added to or omitted from the prescribed 
text; e. g.: "Baptizo (abluo, tingo) te in nomine," etc., 
or: "Baptizo te credentem in nomine Patris et Filii et 
Spirit us Sancti, ut habeas vitam aeternam." Alterations 
made in ignorance of the language employed, and with 
out heretical intent, do not render Baptism invalid, pro 
vided that, according to popular estimation, the objective 
meaning of the formula is preserved. This was decided 
by Pope Zachary in a case submitted to him by St. Boni 
face, where an ignorant cleric had mispronounced the 
usual formula as follows: "Ego te baptizo in nomine 
patria et filia et spiritu sancta." 57 The Slavic formula : 
" Ja te krstim" (krstim derived from krstiti = make 
Christian; Krst=> Christ) was approved by the Holy 
See in 1894, on the ground that the verb krsti also means 
to wash off. 58 This can hardly be said to apply to our 
English word " christen." 

(3) Doubtful, though presumably valid, are those for 
mulas in which it is difficult to decide whether the altera 
tions that have been introduced relate to essential or to 
purely accidental portions, as, e. g.: " I baptize thee in the 
Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost." The 
formula : " I baptize thee in the name of the Father, 
and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy 

5Q"Non tamen negamus, quin /SaTrriferai. Cfr. Goar, EuchoL, p. 

et per ilia verba: "Baptizatur tails 355; Probst, Sakramente und Sa- 

servus Christi in nomine Patris et kramentalien in den ersten drei Jahr- 

Filii et Spiritus Sancti/ verum per- hunderten, pp. 148 sqq., Tubingen 

ficiatur sacramentum." (Denzinger- 1872. 

Bannwart, n. 696). The variant 57 Cfr. Mansi, Cone., t. XII, p. 

" Baptizetur " in the above text is 325. 

probably incorrect, because the 68 See the Innsbruck Zeitschrift 

Greeks do not say /SaTrnfeatfw, but fiir kath. Theologie, 1901, p. 318. 


Ghost," was considered doubtful by St. Alphonsus, but 
on Jan. 13, 1882, the Congregation of the Holy Office de 
cided that the use of this formula does not render Baptism 
invalid, because the heresy of Tritheism is not necessarily 
implied therein. 



Baptism has for its general effect the regeneration of 
the soul, 1 and hence belongs to the " Sacraments of the 

Its specific effects are three, viz.: ( i ) the grace of jus 
tification (iustificatio prima) ; (2) forgiveness of all the 
penalties of sin; and (3) the sacramental character. 

TION. Justification comprises the remission of sin 
and the sanctification of the soul. Baptism, as a 
means of justification, must therefore forgive sin 
and infuse sanctifying grace. Such is indeed the 
defined teaching of the Church. "If any one 
denies," says the Council of Trent, "that, by the 
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is con 
ferred in Baptism, the guilt of original sin is re 
mitted, or even asserts that the whole of that 
which has the true and proper nature of sin, is 
not taken away, ... let him be anathema/ 2 
And in the Decretum pro Armenis Eugene IV de- 

1 Cfr. Tit. Ill, 5 : " lavacrum re- originate peccati remitti negat out 
generationis." etiam asserit non tolli totum id, 

2 Sess. V, can. 5 : " Si quis per quod veram et propriam peccati rati- 
lesu Christi Domini nostri gratiam, onem habet, . . . anathema sit." 
quae in baptismate confertur, reatum (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 792). 



clares : "The effect of this Sacrament [Baptism] 
is the remission of every sin, original and ac 
tual." 3 

a) For the Scriptural proof of this dogma we 
refer to our treatises on God the Author of Na 
ture and the Supernatural, pp. 238 sqq., and 
Grace, Actual and Habitual, pp. 328 sqq., and also 
to the general introduction to the Sacraments, 
supra, pp. 1 88 sqq. 

b) In this connection theologians are wont to 
discuss several problems intimately related to sac 
ramental justification. 

a) Though Baptism completely blots out the guilt of 
original sin (reatus culpae), there still remains concu 
piscence (fomes peccati, concupiscentia) , which, however, 
no longer partakes of the nature of guilt, but is merely 
a consequence of original sin. 4 This teaching was em 
phasized by St. Augustine. 5 

Besides forgiving sin and producing sanctifying grace, 
with all its formal effects justice, supernatural beauty, 
the friendship of God, and His adoptive sonship 6 Bap 
tism also effects the supernatural concomitants of sanc 
tifying grace, viz.: the three divine virtues of faith, hope, 
and charity, the infused moral virtues, and the seven 
gifts of the Holy Ghost, including His personal indwell- 

3 " Huius sacramenti effectus est nia, prorsus omnia factorum, dicto- 
remissio omnis culpae originalis et rum, cogitatorum sive originalia sire 
actualis." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. addita [t. e. actualia] . . .; sed non 
696). aufert infirmitatem [t. e. fotniteni], 

4 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. V, cui regeneratus resistit, quando bo- 
can. 5. num agonem luctatur." 

5 Contra Duas Epist. Pelag., Ill, 6 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Ac 
s . " Baptismus abluit peccata om- tual and Habitual, pp. 356 sqq. 


ing in the soul, which is the crown and climax of the 
process of justification. 7 The Fathers extol these pre 
rogatives in glowing terms. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, 
e. g., says : " Baptism is the splendor of the soul, life s 
amendment, the uplifting of conscience to God, a means 
of getting rid of our weakness, the laying aside of the 
flesh, the attainment of the spirit, the participation of the 
Word, the drowning of sin, the communication of light, 
the dispersion of darkness." 8 

/?) The very excellence of these effects, not to speak 
of the sacramental character which Baptism imprints, 9 
compels us to draw an essential distinction between 
the Baptism of Christ and that administered by John the 
Baptist. The existence of such a distinction is expressly 
affirmed by the Tridentine Council : "If any one saith 
that the Baptism of John had the same force as the Bap 
tism of Christ, let him be anathema." 10 The Baptism of 
John was merely an exhortation to do penance and to 
prepare for the coming of the Messias, and consequently 
cannot have had the same power as the Baptism of Christ. 
This explains why St. Paul, upon meeting the twelve dis 
ciples of John at Ephesus, commanded them to be rebap- 
tized in the name of Jesus before he imposed his hands 
on them and called down the Holy Ghost. " John," 
he explained, " baptized the people with the Baptism of 
penance, saying that they should believe in him who was 
to come after him, that is to say, in Jesus." n The teach 
ing of the Fathers agrees perfectly with this. We pass 

1 Ibid., pp. 362 sqq. Christi, anathema sit." (Denzinger- 

8 Or. de Bapt., 40, n. 4 (Migne, Bannwart, n. 857). 

P. G., XXXVI, 362). 11 Acts XIX, 4: " I oannes bap- 

9 V. infra, No. 3, pp. 234 sqq. tisavit baptismo poenitentiae (fiair- 

10 Sess. VII, De Bapt., can. i: rifffjia /teravot os) populum, dicens: 
" Si quis dixcrit, baptismum loannis In eum qui venturns esset post ip- 
habuisse eandem vim cum baptismo sum ut crederent, hoc est in lesutn." 


over Tertullian, 12 St. Ambrose, 13 St. Chrysostom, 14 St. 
Gregory the Great, 15 and others, and content ourselves 
with quoting a passage from St. Augustine. " I ask, 
therefore," he says in his treatise De Baptismo contra 
Donatistas, " if sins were remitted by the Baptism of 
John, what more could the Baptism of Christ confer on 
those whom the Apostle Paul desired to be baptized with 
the Baptism of Christ after they had received the Baptism 
of John ? " 1G The difference must have consisted in this 
that the Baptism of John did not produce its effects ex 
opere operate, but through the disposition of the recipient 
(ex opere operantis), as St. Thomas explains with his 
usual clearness : " The Baptism of John did not confer 
grace, but only prepared for grace ; and this in three ways : 
first, by John s teaching, which led men to faith in Christ, 
secondly, by accustoming men to the rite of Christ s Bap 
tism; thirdly, by penance, preparing men to receive the 
effect of Christ s Baptism." 17 In other words, " the 
Baptism of John was not in itself a Sacrament, properly 
so called, but a kind of sacramental, preparatory to the 
Baptism of Christ." 18 

ISHMENTS DUE TO SIN. Sin and its punishment 

12 De Bapt., c. 10. praeparabat tripliciter: uno quid em 

13 In Luc., c. 3. modo per doctrinam loannis inducen- 

14 Horn, in Matth., 12, 2. tern homines ad fidem Christi; alia 

15 Horn., I, 7, 3. modo assuefaciendo homines ad 
ic De Bapt. c. Donat., V, 10: ritum baptismi Christi; tertio modo 

" Quaero itaque, si baptismo loan- per poenitentiam praeparando ho- 

nis peccata dimittebantur, quid mines ad suscipiendum effectum bap- 

amplius praestare potuit baptismus tismi Christi." 

Christi Us, quos Apostolus Paulus 18 Ibid., art. i, ad i: " Baptis- 

post baptismum loannis Christi bap- mus loannis non erat per se sacra- 

tismo voluit baptisarif " mentum, sed quoddam sacramentale 

17 Summa Theol., 33, qu. 38, art. disponens ad baptismum Christi." 

3: "Baptismus loannis gratiam non Cfr. Bellarmine, De Bapt., c. 19 sqq. 
conferebat, sed solum ad gratiam 


are really distinct, 19 and the remission not only of 
sin but of all the penalties due to it, is an effect 
peculiar to Baptism alone. According to the con 
stant teaching of the Church, the Sacrament of 
Baptism remits not only the eternal penalties of 
sin, the remission of which seems to be an es 
sential part of the forgiveness of sin itself, but 
likewise all temporal punishments, so that, were 
one to die immediately after receiving Baptism, 
he would go straightway to Heaven. 20 "In those 
who are born again/ says the Council of Trent, 
"there is nothing that God hates, because there 
is no condemnation to those who are truly buried 
together with Christ by Baptism into death ; . . . 
so that there is nothing whatever to retard their 
entrance into Heaven/ 21 

a) This dogma cannot be conclusively proved 
from Sacred Scripture, 22 but if we carefully con 
sider the language used by St. Paul in comparing 
Baptism with the death and burial of our Lord, 
we can hardly doubt that the Apostle means to 
teach that Baptism remits not only all sins but 
also all the penalties due to them. Cf r. Rom. VI, 

19 This point will be dealt with in damnationis Us, qui vere consepulti 
the treatise on the Sacrament of sunt cum Christo per baptisma in 
Penance. mortem . . ., ita ut nihil prorsus eos 

20 Cfr. Decretum pro Armenis: ab ingressu coeli remoretur." 
" Morientes, antequam culpam alt- (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 792). 
quam committant, statim ad regnum 22 The texts cited by the Triden- 
coelorum et Dei visionem perveni- tine Fathers (/. c.) do not express 
unt." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 696). the remission of the punishment of 

21 Sess. V, can. 5: "In renatis sins as clearly as that of the sins 
enim nihil odit Deus, quia nihil est themselves. 


4: "For we are buried together with him by 
baptism into death; that as Christ. is risen from 
the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also 
may walk in newness of life." 23 The Roman 
Catechism comments on this text as follows: 
"Of Baptism alone has it been said by the Apostle, 
that by it we die and are buried with Christ. 
Hence holy Church has always understood that to 
impose those offices of piety which are usually 
called by the holy Fathers works of satisfaction, 
on him who is to be purified by Baptism, cannot be 
done without the gravest injury to this Sacra 
ment." 24 

b) Tertullian speaks the mind of the Latin Fa 
thers when he says : "The guilt being removed, 
the penalty is removed also. Thus man is re 
stored to God according to the likeness of him 
[i. e. Adam] who in days gone by had been 
[created] to the image of God." 25 And St. 
Athanasius expresses the universal belief of the 
Greeks when he declares: "Baptism is called a 
laver, because in it we wash off our sins; it is 

23 Rom. VI, 4: " Consepulti enim intellexit sine iniuria sacramenti 
sumus cum illo per baptismum in fieri non posse, ut ei qui baptismo 
mortem: ut quomodo Christus sur- expiandus sit, . . . opera satisfac- 
rexit a mortuis per gloriam Patris, tionis imponantur." 

ita et nos in novitate vitae ambule- 25 De Bapt., c. 5 : " Exempto 

mus." reatu eximitur et poena; ita restitui- 

24 P. II, cap. 2, n. 44: " De solo tur homo Deo ad similitudinem eiits 
tamen baptismo dictum est ab Apo- qui retro ad imaginem Dei fuerat." 
stolo, <nos per ipsum commori et (Migne, P. L., I, 1206). 

sepeliri, ex quo s. Ecclesia semper 


called grace, because through it are remitted the 
punishments due to sins." 2Q 

c) From this teaching Catholic theologians consistently 
infer that such penalties as remain after Baptism (e. g. 
sickness and death) no longer partake of the nature of 
punishment, but are purely medicinal. In the technical 
terminology of the Schoolmen, they are not poenae but 
poenalitates. 27 This explains why no works of satisfac 
tion are imposed on adults at Baptism. True, in the 
olden time the baptizandi were compelled to fast, as Ter- 
tullian reminds us ; 28 but this was done only to aid them in 
subduing concupiscence, to accustom them to pious prac 
tices, to obtain special graces, and for similar purposes. 

By the " temporal punishments of sin " we do not, of 
course, means, those which a secular judge is bound by 
law to inflict upon convicted offenders. Nevertheless 
St. Thomas 29 recommends Christian rulers, " for the 
honor of the Sacrament," to remit capital punishment to 
convicted pagans who ask for Baptism, and the Roman 
Catechism repeats the recommendation. 30 

TER. Like Confirmation and Holy Orders, Bap 
tism imprints in the soul of the recipient an in 
delible mark, which renders repetition impossible. 
The Tridentine Council defines: "If any one 
saith that in the three Sacraments, to wit, Bap 
tism, Confirmation, and Order, there is not im 
printed in the soul a character, that is a certain 

26 Ep. 4 ad Scrap, 29 Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 69, art. 

27 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa 2, ad 3. 

Theol., IE aae, qu. 85, art. 5. 30 Cat, Rom., P. II, cap. 2, n. 45. 

28 De Bapt.. c. 20. 


spiritual and indelible sign, on account of which 
they cannot be repeated; let him be anathema/ 31 

a) For the Scriptural argument in support of 
this dogma, see supra, pp. 76 sqq. 

b) From the theological point of view the fol 
lowing considerations are pertinent. 

a) That Baptism cannot be repeated, is owing to the 
fact that it is a rebirth of the soul 32 and in a mystic 
manner exercises the same functions as Christ s death 
on the cross. 33 Referring to the former, St. Augustine 
observes : " The womb does not repeat its births," 34 and 
with the latter analogy in mind St. Chrysostom says : 
" As there is no second crucifixion for Christ, so there 
can be no such a thing as rebaptism." 35 

Rebaptism has always been condemned by the Church 
as sacrilegious. St. Augustine shows its intrinsic absurd 
ity by comparing it to an " impositio Christi super Chri 
stum." 3G The older Fathers furnish plenty of material 
for this argument. Clement of Alexandria, for example, 
quotes the following remarkable passage from the eclogues 
of Theodotus the Valentinian : " As even the dumb ani 
mals show by a mark to whom they belong, and each can 
be recognized by that mark, thus the faithful soul that has 
received the seal of truth 37 bears the stigmata of 

81 Sess. VII, De Sacram., can. 9: 35 Horn, in Ep. ad Hebr., g, n. 

" Si quis dixerit, in tribus sacra- 3 ; "i7<T7rep o$v OVK ZCTL devrepov 

mentis, baptismo scil., confirmatione aTavpbiOrjvai TOV ~X.pi.CT6v, oCrws 

et ordine non imprimi characterem ov5 devrepov (3a.TrTiff6iji>a.i- 

in anima, h. e. signum quoddam 36 In Ps., 39, n. i: " Baptismus 

spirituale et indelebile t unde ea reite- ille tamquam character infixus est : 

rari non possunt, anathema sit." ornabat militem, conz incit deserto- 

(Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 852). rem. Quid enim fads [rebaptizan j] ? 

32 Cfr. John III, 5; Tit. Ill, 5. Christum imponis super Christum." 

S3 Cfr. Rom. VI, i sqq. (Migne, P. L., XXXVI, 433). 

34 Tract, in loa., 1 1 : " Uterus 37 T b rrjs dXrj^e/as a <f> pay iff pa- 
non partus repetit." 


Christ." 38 St. Basil eulogizes the Sacrament as follows : 
" Baptism is the ransom paid for prisoners, the remission 
of debts, the death of sin, the rebirth of the soul, a shining 
garment, an indelible seal, 39 a vehicle [to convey men] 
to Heaven, a medium of the kingdom [of God], a free gift 
of sonship." 40 

/?) The general purpose of the sacramental 
character has been sufficiently explained supra, 
pp. 88 sqq. In addition to what we have said 
there, we will briefly comment on what may be 
termed the secondary effects of the baptismal 

In the first place the baptismal character, as a signum 
configurativum, incorporates the recipient into Christ s 
own family, bestows upon him the Saviour s coat-of-arms, 
and thus renders him a Christian, i. e. one who is like 
unto Christ. Cfr. Gal. Ill, 27: "As many of you as 
have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ." 41 

By Baptism, furthermore, one becomes a member of 
our Lord s " mystic body," i. e. the true Church. " Bap 
tism," says the Decretum pro Armenis, " is the door to the 
spiritual life, for by it we are made members of Christ and 
[part] of the body of the Church." 42 This is but another 
way of expressing St. Paul s thought, i Cor. XII, 13, 27: 
" We were all baptized into one body. . . . Now you are 

38 Migne, P. G., IX, 698. enim in Christ o baptizati estis, 

39 ff(f>payis ciyeTTixeip^TOS. Christum induistis." 

40 Horn, de Bapt., 13, n. 5 (Migne, 42 " Primum omnium sacramen- 
P. G., XXXI, 434). For a specula- torum locum tenet s. baptisma, quod 
tive discussion of the baptismal char- vitae spiritualis ianua est; per ip- 
acter, v. supra, pp. 84 sqq. sum enim membra Christi ac de 

41 Gal. Ill, 27: " Quicunque corpore efficimur Ecclesiae." (Den- 

zinger-Bannwart, n. 696). 


[together] the body of Christ, and severally his mem 
bers. * 43 In this respect the baptismal character is a 
signum dlstinctivum, marking off those who are baptized 
from those who are not. Only the former are " mem 
bers " of the corpus Ecclesiae, while the latter may at 
most belong to the anima Ecclesiae. 

By making them members of the Church, the baptismal 
character, as a signum obligatimim, subjects all baptized 
Christians to her jurisdiction, obliges them to keep their 
baptismal vow and to observe the ecclesiastical precepts. 
In return, it guarantees them the graces they require 
for their respective state of life 44 as well as all the bene 
fits, privileges, and means of sanctification which the 
Church is pleased to bestow upon her children, particu 
larly the right to receive the other Sacraments. 45 

43 i Cor. XII, 13, 27: " Omnes *4 Cfr. St. Thomas, Summa 

nos in unum corpus baptisati sumus TheoL, 33, qu. 69, art. 5. 

. . . Vos autem estis corpus Christi 45 St. Thomas, Comment, in Sent., 

et membra de membro." (We use IV, dist. 24, qu. i : " Qui charac- 

the Westminster Version). Cfr. J. terem baptismalem non habet, nul- 

MacRory, The Epistles of St. Paul lum alterum sacramentum suscipere 

to the Corinthians, Dublin 1915, pp. potest." On the character as a 

i9 2 sq. signum dispositivum, v. supra, pp. 

93 sq. 



Baptism is necessary for salvation, but, under 
certain conditions, the place of Baptism by water 
(baptismus fiuminis) may be supplied by Baptism 
of desire (baptismus flaminis) or by Baptism of 
blood (baptismus sanguinis). We shall explain 
the Catholic teaching on this point in three theses. 

Thesis I: Baptism is necessary for salvation. 

This proposition embodies an article of faith. 

Proof. We have, in a previous treatise, 1 dis 
tinguished between two kinds of necessity: ne 
cessity of means (necessitas medii) and necessity 
of precept (necessitas praecepti). 

Since Baptism is necessary for infants no less than 
for adults, it follows that all men need it as a means of 
salvation (necessitas medii), and that for adults it is also 
of precept (necessitas praecepti). However, since the 
Baptism of water may sometimes be supplied by the Bap 
tism of desire or the Baptism of blood, Baptism of water 
is not absolutely necessary as a means of salvation but 
merely in a hypothetical way. That Baptism is necessary 
for salvation is an expressly defined dogma, for the Coun 
cil of Trent declares: " If any one saith that Baptism is 

1 Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual and Habitual, pp. 281 sqq. 
2 3 8 


free, that is, not necessary unto salvation, let him be anath 
ema." 2 

a) This can be conclusively proved from Holy 
Scripture. Our Lord s command: "Teach ye 
all nations, baptizing them/ 3 plainly imposes on 
all men the duty to receive Baptism, as is 
evidenced by a parallel passage in St. Mark: 
"Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gos 
pel to every creature ; he that believeth and is bap 
tized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not 
shall be condemned/ 4 Here we have Christ s 
plain and express declaration that while unbelief 
is sufficient to incur damnation, faith does not 
ensure salvation unless it is accompanied by Bap 

That Baptism is necessary as a means of salva 
tion (necessitate medii) follows from John III, 
5 : "Unless a man be born again 5 of water and 
the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom 
of heaven." Spiritual regeneration is more than 
a mere keeping of the Commandments; it in 
volves a complete transformation of the soul. As 
no one can come into this world without being 
born, so no one can enter Heaven unless he is 
supernaturally reborn. Hence Baptism is, ordi 
narily, a necessary means of salvation. 6 

2Sess. VII, De Bapt., can. 5: 3 Matth. XXVIII, 19. 

"Si quis dixerit, baptismum liberum 4 Mark XVI, 15 sq. 

tsse, hoc est non necessarium ad 3 cap /nj ris yfifvydr]. 

sahttem, anathema sit." (Den- 6 V. Theses II and III, infra. 
zinger-Bannwart, n. 861). 


b) This teaching is upheld by Tradition. 

The African bishops assembled at the Council of 
Carthage (416), in a letter to Innocent I, complain of the 
cruelty of the Pelagians, who condemn their children to 
eternal death by refusing them Baptism. 7 

Tertullian writes : " The precept is laid down that 
without Baptism salvation is attainable by none, chiefly 
on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says : 
Unless a man be born of water, he hath not eternal life." 8 

St. Basil, at a somewhat later date, says : " If you 
have not passed through the water, you will not be freed 
from the cruel tyranny of the devil." 9 

This belief of the primitive Church was embodied, as it 
were, in the catechumenate, an institution which lasted 
well into the Middle Ages. " Catechumeni " 10 was 
a name applied to adults who were under instruction with 
a view to receiving Baptism. Until recently they were 
believed to have been divided into three classes, vis.: 
audientes (dK/oowjucvoi) ; genufiectentes (yow KAiVorrcs) ; 
and competentes (<amd/zevoi). This theory was based 
upon a misunderstood canon of a council of Neocaesarea 
(between 314 and 325). Other theologians thought that 
there were two classes, catechumeni and competentes or 
electi. But this distinction is equally untenable, because 
St. Cyril of Jerusalem and other Fathers number the 

7 " Parvulos etiain baptisandos Kirche nach der altchristlichen Li- 

negant ac sic eos mortifera ista doc- teratur bis zur Zeit des hi. Augu- 

trina in aeternum necant." stinus, pp. 280 sqq., Freiburg 1903. 

8 De Bapt., c. 12: " Praescribitur On Infant Baptism, v. infra, Ch. 
nemini sine baptismo competere salu- IV, Sect. 2, pp. 268 sqq. 

tern ex ilia maxime pronuntiatione 10 Kar^^oy/tte^ot, from KaTrjxelv, 

Domini, qui ait: Nisi natus quis ex to instruct orally. On the catechu- 

aqua fuerit, non habet vitam aeter- menate see T. B. Scannell, j. v. 

nam." " Catechumen," in Vol. Ill of the 

9 Horn, in Bapt., n. 2. Cfr. A. Catholic Encyclopedia. 
Seitz, Die Heilsnotivendigkeit der 


competentes, or candidates for Baptism, among the faith 
ful (fideles, Trio-rot). To the late Professor Funk belongs 
the credit of having shown that the catechumens were all 
in one class. 11 But even though we now discard the 
three (or two) stages of preparation, this does not 
alter the fact that the ecclesiastical authorities were at 
great pains properly to instruct converts, so as to make 
them well-informed and loyal Catholics. The catechu 
mens had to pass seven consecutive examinations (septem 
scrutinia) before they were admitted to Baptism. Be 
sides, for a whole week after Baptism they wore white 
garments, which they put off on Low Sunday (Dominica 
in albis, scil. deponendis). Had not the Church been so 
firmly convinced of the importance and necessity of Bap 
tism, she would certainly not have surrounded this Sac 
rament with so many imposing ceremonies nor spent so 
much time and labor in preparing candidates for its re 
ception. The very existence of the catechumenate in the 
primitive Church proves that Baptism was always re 
garded as a matter of spiritual life and death. 12 

c) It is a moot question among theologians at 
what time Baptism became a necessary means of 

Even if it were true, as some older writers hold, that 
express belief in the Messias and the Trinity was a neces 
sary condition of salvation already in the Old Testament, 
Baptism certainly was not, either as a means or in con- 

11 F. X. Funk, Kirchengeschichtli- Kempten 1868; P. Gobel, Geschichte 
che Abhandlungen und Untersu- der Katechese im Abendlande vom 
chungen, Vol. I, pp. 209 sqq., Pader- Verfalle des Katechumenates bis sum 
born 1897. Ende des Mittelalters, Kempten 

12 Cfr. J. Mayer, Geschichte des 1880; T. B. Scannell in the Catholic 
Katechumenates und der Katechese Encyclopedia, I.e. 

in den ersten seeks Jahrhunderten, 


sequence of a positive precept. 13 For those living under 
the New Law the necessity of Baptism, according to the 
Tridentine Council, 14 began with " the promulgation of 
the Gospel." When was the Gospel promulgated ? Was 
it promulgated for all nations on the day of our Lord s 
Ascension, or did its precepts go into effect only when they 
were actually preached to each? Were we to adopt the 
latter assumption, we should have to admit that the neces 
sity of Baptism, and consequently the duty of receiving 
the Sacrament, was limited both with regard to time and 
place, e. g. that the law did not go into effect in Palestine 
until the Gospel had been sufficiently promulgated through 
out that country, which required some thiry years or more. 
To be entirely consistent we should have to admit further 
that Baptism did not become necessary for salvation in 
the farther parts of the Roman Empire until about the 
close of the third century, in the Western hemisphere un 
til the sixteenth century, in Central Africa or the Congo 
Free State until the beginning of the twentieth. This 
would practically mean that millions of pagans after the 
time of Christ were in precisely the same position as the 
entire human race before the atonement, and that their 
children could be saved by a mere " Sacrament of na 
ture." 15 Though this way of reasoning appears quite 
legitimate in the light of the Tridentine declaration, it is 
open to serious theological objections. In the first place, 
we must not arbitrarily limit the validity of our Saviour s 
baptismal mandate. Secondly, we cannot assume that for 
more than a thousand years the children of pagan na- 

13 On the justification of adults post Evangelium promulgation sine 
and children under the Old Testa- lavacro regenerationis out eius voto 
ment and among the pre-Christian fieri non potest." (Denzinger-Bann- 
Gentiles, v. supm, p. 19 sqq. wart, n. 796). 

14 Sess. VI, cap. 4: "... quae 15 V. supra, p. 18 sqq. 
quideni translatio \i. e, iustificatio] 


tions were better off in the matter of salvation than in 
numerable infants of Christian parentage, who were un 
able to avail themselves of the " Sacrament of nature/ 
Third, the assumption under review practically renders 
illusory the necessity of Baptism through a period ex 
tending over many centuries. To obviate these difficul 
ties we prefer the more probable opinion that the law mak 
ing Baptism necessary for salvation was promulgated on 
Ascension day or, if you will, on Pentecost, simultaneously 
for the whole world, and at once became binding upon all 
nations. 16 

Thesis II: In adults the place of Baptism by 
water can be supplied in case of urgent necessity by 
the so-called Baptism of desire. 

This proposition may be qualified as "doctrina 

Proof. The Baptism of desire (baptismus 
flaminis) differs from the Baptism of water 
(baptismus ftuminis} in the same way in which 
spiritual differs from actual Communion. If the 
desire for Baptism is accompanied by perfect con 
trition, we have the so-called baptismus ftaminis, 
which forthwith justifies the sinner, provided, of 
course, that the desire is a true votum sacramenti, 
i. e. y that it implies a firm resolve to receive the 
Sacrament as soon as opportunity offers. 

The Tridentine Council pronounces anathema 
against those who assert "that the Sacraments 
of the New Law are not necessary for salva- 

16 Cfr. Bellarmine, De Bapt., c. opinion (Compendium Theol. Dog- 
5; Billuart, De Bapt., dissert, i, art. mat., Vol. III. i2th ed., n. 317, 
2, 2. H, Hurter holds a different Innsbruck 1909). 


tion, but superfluous, and that without them, or 
without the desire thereof, men obtain of God 
through faith alone the grace of justification/ 17 

At a later date the Holy See formally condemned a 
proposition extracted from the writings of Bajus, which 
says that " Perfect and sincere charity can exist both in 
catechumens and in penitents without the remission of 
sins." 18 Hence the Church teaches that perfect charity 
does remit sin, even in catechumens or in penitents, i. e. 
before the reception of the Sacrament, yet not without 
the Sacrament, as we have seen in Thesis I. Nothing 
remains, therefore, but to say that the remission of sins 
through perfect charity is due to the fact that such char 
ity implies the desire of the Sacrament. Indeed the only 
Sacraments here concerned are Baptism and Penance. 
The Council of Trent 19 explains that primal justification 
(from original sin) is impossible without the laver of re 
generation or the desire thereof, and 20 that forgiveness 
of personal sin must not be expected from perfect charity 
without at least the desire of the Sacrament of Penance. 

a) That perfect contrition effects immediate 
justification is apparent from the case of David, 21 
that of Zachaeus, 22 and our Lord s own words to 
one of the robbers crucified with Him on Cal- 

17 Sess. VII, De Sacram., can. 4: menis quam in poenitentibus potest 
" Si quis dixerit, sacramenta Novae esse sine remissione peccatorum." 
Legis non esse ad saint em neces- (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 1031). 
saria, sed superflua, et sine eis out 19 Sess. VI, cap. 4. (Note 14, 
eorum voto per solam fidem homines p. 242, supra). 

a Deo gratiam iustificationis adi- 20 Sess. XIV, cap. 4. Cfr. the 

pisci, . . . anathema sit." (Den- dogmatic treatise on the Sacrament 

zinger-Bannwart, n. 847). of Penance. 

18 Prop. 31: " Car Has perfecta 21 Cfr. Ps. 50. 

et sincera . . . tarn in catechu- 22 Cfr. Luke XIX, 9. 


vary : "This day thou shalt be with me in para 
dise." 23 

The Prophet Ezechiel assured the Old Testament 
Jews in the name of Jehovah : " If the wicked do pen 
ance for all his sins, ... he shall live, and shall not 
die." 24 In the New Testament our Lord Himself says of 
the penitent Magdalen : " Many sins are forgiven her, 
because she hath loved much." 25 Since, however, God 
has ordained Baptism as a necessary means of salva 
tion, 26 perfect contrition, in order to obtain forgiveness of 
sins, must include the desire of the Sacrament. Cfr. 
John XIV, 23 : "If any one love me, he will keep my 
word, and my Father will love him, and we will come 
to him, and will make our abode with him." 27 

b) According to primitive Tradition, the Bap 
tism of desire, when based on charity, effects jus 
tification, though not without some ideal relation 
to the Baptism of water. 

The anonymous author of the treatise De Rebaptismate, 
which was composed about 256 against the practice cham 
pioned by St. Cyprian, 28 calls attention to the fact that 
the centurion Cornelius and his family were justified 
without the Sacrament, 29 and adds : " No doubt men can 
be baptized without water, in the Holy Ghost, as you ob 
serve that these were baptized, before they were baptized 

23 Luke XXIII, 43. 26 V. supra, Thesis I. 

24 Ez. XVIII, 21 : " Si autem im- 27 Other Scriptural texts in our 
pius egerit poenitentiam ab omni- treatise on the Sacrament of Pen- 
bus peccatis suis, . . . vita vivet et ance. 

non morietur." 28 This treatise was perhaps writ- 

25 Luc. VII, 47: " Remittuntur ten by Bishop Ursinus (cfr. Gen- 
ei peccata multa, quoniam dilexit nad., De Vir. Illustr., c. 27). 
multum." 29 Acts X, 44 sqq. 


with water, . . . since they received the grace of the New 
Covenant before the bath, which they reached later." 30 

The most striking Patristic pronouncement on the sub 
ject is found in St. Ambrose s sermon on the death of the 
Emperor Valentinian II, who had died as a catechu 
men. " I hear you express grief," he says, " because 
he [Valentinian] did not receive the Sacrament of Bap 
tism. Tell me, what else is there in us except the will 
and petition ? But he had long desired to be initiated be 
fore he came to Italy, and expressed his intention to be 
baptized by me as soon as possible, and it was for this 
reason, more than for any other, that he hastened to me. 
Has he not, therefore, the grace which he desired? Has 
he not received that for which he asked ? Surely, he re 
ceived [it] because he asked [for it]." 31 

St. Augustine repeatedly speaks of the power inherent 
in the desire for Baptism. " I do not hesitate," he says 
in his treatise De Baptismo against the Donatists, " to 
place the Catholic catechumen, who is burning with the 
love of God, before the baptized heretic. . . . The 
centurion Cornelius, before Baptism, was better than 
Simon [Magus], who had been baptized. For Cornelius, 
even before Baptism, was filled with the Holy Ghost, while 
Simon, after Baptism, was puffed up with an unclean 
spirit." 32 A seemingly contradictory passage occurs in 

50"Atque hoc non erit dubium, nisi voluntas, nisi petitio? Alqui 

in Spiritu Sancto homines posse sine etiam dudum hoc voti habuit, tit et 

aqua baptisari, sicut animadvcrtis antequam in lialiain venissct initi- 

baptizatos hos, priusquam aqua bap- aretur, et proxime baptisari se a me 

tizarentur, . . . quandoquidem sine velle significant, et idco prae ceteris 

lavacro, quod postea adepti sunt, gra- causis me accersendum putavit. 

tiam repromissionis acceperint." Non habet ergo gratiam quam desi- 

(Migne, P. L., Ill, 1889). dcravit? Non habet quam poposcitf 

31 De Obitu Valent., n. 51 sq. : Certe quia poposcit, accepit." 
"Audio vos dolere quod non ac- 32 De Bapt. c. Donat., IV, 21: 

ceperit sacramenta baptismatis. " Nee ergo dubito, catechumcnum 

Dicite mihi, quid aliud in nobis est catholicum divina caritate flagrantem 


the same author s Homilies on the Gospel of St. John. 
" No matter what progress a catechumen may make," 
it reads, " he still carries the burden of iniquity, which 
is not taken away until he has been baptized." S3 The 
two Augustinian passages quoted can, however, be easily 
reconciled. The command to receive the Baptism of water 
exists also for the catechumens and ceases to be binding 
only when there is an impossibility. " I find," says the 
same author, " that not only martyrdom for the sake of 
Christ may supply what was wanting of Baptism, but also 
faith and conversion of heart, if recourse can not be had to 
the celebration of the mystery of Baptism for want of 
time." S4 St. Bernard invokes the authority of SS. Am 
brose and Augustine in support of his teaching that a 
man may be saved by the Baptism of desire if death or 
some other insuperable obstacle prevents him from receiv 
ing the Baptism of water. 35 The Popes decided many 
practical cases of conscience by this rule. Thus Innocent 
III unhesitatingly declared that a certain deceased priest, 
who had never been baptized, had undoubtedly obtained 
forgiveness of original sin and reached Heaven, and that 
the sacrifice of the Mass might be offered up for the re 
pose of his soul. 36 

haeretico baptizato anteponere. . . . posse supplere, sed etiam fidem con- 

Melior est enim ccnturio Cornelius versionemque cordis, si forte ad cele- 

nondum baptizatus Simone [Mago] brandum mysterium in angustiis 

baptisato; iste enim et ante baptis- temporum succurri non potest." 

mum S. Spiritu impletus est, ille et 35 Ep. 77 ad Hug. Viet., n. 8: 

post baptismum immundo spiritu " Ab his duabus columnis difficile 

impletus est." (Migne, P. L., avellor ; cum his, inquam, out errare 

XLIII, 171). out sapere me fateor, credens et 

33 Tract, in loa., 13, n. 7: ipse sola fide [i. e. formata] posse 
" Quantumcunque catechumenus hominem salvari cum desiderio per- 
proficiat, adhuc sarcinam iniquitatis cipiendi sacramentum, si tamen pio 
portat; non ilia dimittitur, nisi quum implendi desiderio mors anticipans 
venerit ad baptismum." seu alia quaecumque vis invincibilis 

34 De Bapt. c. Donat., IV, 22: obviaverit." (Migne, Pair. Lot., 
" Invenio, non tantum passionem pro CLXXXII, 1036). 

Christo id quod ex baptismo deerat 803 Decret., tit. 13, c. 2: " Pres- 


The question whether the votum baptismi accompany 
ing perfect contrition must be explicit, is to be de 
cided in the same way as the parallel problem whether 
pagans, in order to be justified, must have an express be 
lief in the Trinity and the Incarnation, or whether an 
implicit belief in these mysteries is sufficient. 37 The more 
common opinion holds that the votum implicitum is all 
that is required. This " implicit desire " may be defined 
as " a state of mind in which a man would ardently long 
for Baptism if he knew that it is necessary for salva 
tion." 38 

Thesis III : Martyrdom (baptismus sanguinis) can 
also supply the place of Baptism. 

Though the Church has never formally pro 
nounced on the subject, the teaching of Scrip 
ture and Tradition is sufficiently clear to en 
able us to regard this thesis as "doctrina certa." 

Proof. The Baptism of blood, or martyrdom, 
is the patient endurance of death, or of extreme 
violence apt to cause death, for the sake of Jesus 

The theological concept of martyrdom (^aprus, a wit 
ness) includes three separate and distinct elements, viz.: 

byterum quern sine undo, baptismatis Preuss, Grace, Actual and Habitual, 

diem clausisse significasti, quia in pp. 182 sqq. 

sanctae mains ecclesiae fide et Chri- 38 Oswald, Die Lehre von den hi. 

sti nominis confessione persevera- Sakramenten dcr kath. Kirche, Vol. 

verit, ab originali peccato solutum et I, sth ed., p. 211. Cfr. A. Seitz, 

coelestis patriae gaudium esse adep- Die Heilsnotwendigkeit der Kirche 

turn asserimus incunctanter." nach der altchristlichen Literatur bis 

37 On this question cfr. Pohle- zur Zeit des hi. Augustinus, pp. 290 

sqq., Freiburg 1903. 


(i) Violent death or extremely cruel treatment which 
would naturally cause death, irrespective of whether the 
victim actually dies or is saved by a miracle, as was St. 
John the Evangelist when he escaped unharmed from the 
cauldron of boiling oil into which he had been thrown by 
order of the Emperor Domitian. (2) The endurance of 
death or violence for the sake of Christ, i. e. for the Cath 
olic faith or for the practice of any supernatural virtue. 
Hence the so-called " martyrs " of revolution or heresy 
are not martyrs in the theological sense of the term. (3) 
Patient suffering, endured voluntarily and without resist 
ance. This excludes soldiers who fall in battle, even 
though they fight in defence of the faith. 39 

Since martyrdom effects justification in infants as well 
as adults, its efficacy must be conceived after the man 
ner of an opus operatum, and in adults presupposes a 
moral preparation or disposition, consisting mainly of 
faith accompanied by imperfect contrition. 40 It does not, 
however, require perfect contrition, else there would be 
no essential distinction between Baptism of blood and 
Baptism of desire. 41 

a) The supernatural efficacy of martyrdom 
may be deduced from our Lord s declaration in 
the Gospel of St. Matthew : "Every one that shall 
confess me before men, I will also confess him be 
fore my Father who is in Heaven," 42 and : "He 
that findeth his life, shall lose it; and he that shall 
lose his life for me, shall find it." 43 If a man 
gives up his life for Jesus, he will surely be re- 

39 Cfr. Benedict XIV, De Serv. 41 V. supra, Thesis II. 
Dei Beatif., Ill, n. 42 Matth. X, 32. 

40 Cfr. Cone. Trid., Sess. XIV, 43 Matth. X, 39. Cfr. Matth. 
cap. 7 (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 897). XVI, 25; Luke IX, 24; XVII, 33. 


warded. "Greater love than this no man hath, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends." 44 
Consequently, martyrdom must be regarded as 
equivalent to Baptism for the unbaptized, and as a 
means of justification for the baptized. 

b) The ancient Church explicitly interpreted 
Christ s teaching in this sense, as is evident from 
the honors she paid to the martyrs. 

Tertullian says : " We have, indeed, likewise a second 
font, itself one [with the former], of blood to wit. . . . 
This is the Baptism which both stands in lieu of the fontal 
bathing when that has not been received, and restores it 
when lost." 45 St. Cyprian declares that the catechumens 
who suffer martyrdom for Christ s sake, go to Heaven. 
" Let them know . . . that the catechumens are not de 
prived of Baptism, since they are baptized with the most 
glorious and supreme Baptism of blood/ 4G St. Augus 
tine expresses himself in a similar manner : " To all 
those who die confessing Christ, even though they 
have not received the laver of regeneration, [martyrdom] 
will prove as effective for the remission of sins as if they 
were washed in the baptismal font." 47 

The Greek Church held the same belief. St. Cyril of 
Jerusalem writes: " If a man does not receive Baptism, 
he hath not salvation, the martyrs alone excepted, who 

44 John XV, 13. tismi sacramento, utpote qui bap- 

45 De Bapt., c. 16: " Est quid em tisentur gloriosissimo et maxima 
11 obis etiam secundum laracrum, sanguinis baptismo." 

unum et ipsum, sanguinis scil. ... 47 De Civ. Dei, XIII, 7: " Qui- 
Hie est baptismus, qui lavacrum et cumque etiam non recepto regenera 
tion acceptum repraesentat et perdi- tionis lavacro pro Christi confessione 
turn reddit." moriuntur, tantum eis valet ad di- 

46 Ep. 73 ad lubaian,, n. 21, ed. mittenda peccata, quantum si ablue- 
Hartel, II, 735: " Sciant . . . rentur fonte baptismatis." 
catechumen os . . . non privari bap- 


attain to Heaven without water." 48 And St. Chrysos- 
tom: "As those baptized in water, so also those who 
suffer martyrdom, are washed clean, [the latter] in their 
own blood." 49 

The primitive Church venerated in a special manner 
all those who suffered martyrdom for the faith, the un- 
baptized as well as the baptized. Among the earliest 
martyrs to whom public honors were paid, are St. Emer- 
entiana, a foster-sister of St. Agnes, and the Holy Inno 
cents, of whom St. Cyprian, following St. Irenaeus, 50 
says that though they were too young to fight for Christ, 
they were old enough to gain the crown of martyrdom. 51 

c) The Baptism of blood is more perfect than 
the Baptism of desire, and, in a certain sense, even 
excels Baptism by water. 

a) It is more perfect than the Baptism of desire, both 
in essence and effect, because it justifies infants as well as 
adults quasi ex opere operate, whereas the Baptism of de 
sire is efficacious ex opere operantis, and in adults only. 
Martyrdom, however, is not a Sacrament because it is no 
ecclesiastical rite and has not been instituted as an ordi 
nary means of grace. It is superior to the Baptism of 
desire in this respect, that, like ordinary Baptism, it not 
only forgives sins and sanctifies the sinner, but remits 
all temporal punishments. St. Augustine says : " It 
would be an affront to pray for a martyr; we should 
[rather] commend ourselves to his prayers. * 52 Hence 

48 Catech., 3, n. 10 (Migne, P. G., the veneration of the martyrs in the 

XXXIII, 439). early Church cfr. Pohle-Preuss, 

49 Horn, in Martyr. Lucian., n. 2 Mariology, pp. 144 sqq., 150. 
(Migne, P. G., L, 522). Other ap- 51 />. 56 ad Thibarit.: " Aetas 
posite texts in Seitz, Die Heilsnot- necdum habilis ad pugnam idonea 
wendigkeit der Ktrche, pp. 287 sqq. exstitit ad coronam." 

50 Adv. Haeres., Ill, 16, 4. On 52 Serin., 159, c. i: " Iniuria est 


the famous dictum of Pope Innocent III: "He who 
prays for a martyr insults him." 53 St. Thomas 
teaches : " Suffering endured for Christ s sake . . . 
cleanses [the soul] of all guilt, both venial and mortal, 
unless the will be found actually attached to sin." 54 

ft) Martyrdom is inferior to Baptism in so far as it is 
not a Sacrament, and consequently neither imprints a 
character nor confers the right of receiving the other 
Sacraments. It excels Baptism in that it not only remits 
all sins, together with the temporal punishments due to 
them, but likewise confers the so-called aureole. 55 It is 
superior to Baptism also in this that it more perfectly 
represents the passion and death of Christ. Cfr. Mark 
X, 38 : " Can you drink of the chalice that I drink 
of, or be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am 
baptized?" "Let him who is deemed worthy of mar 
tyrdom," say the Apostolic Constitutions, 56 " rejoice in 
the Lord for obtaining such a great crown. . . . Though 
he be a catechumen, let him depart without sadness ; for 
the suffering he endures for Christ will be to him more 
effective than Baptism." 57 St. Bonaventure explains this 
as follows: " The reason why [martyrdom] has greater 
efficacy is that in the Baptism of blood there is an 
ampler and a fuller imitation and profession of the Pas 
sion of Christ than in the Baptism of water. ... In the 

pro martyre orare, cuius nos debe- fold aureola (martyrum, virgi- 
mus orationibus commendari." num, doctor um) v. St. Thomas, 

53 " Iniuriam facit martyri, qui Summa Theol., 33, qu. 96. 

orat pro eo." Cap. " Cum Marthae," 56 Probably composed in the be- 

De Celebr. Missae. ginning of the fourth century. 

54 Summa Theol., aa, qu. 87, art. 57 Const. Apost., V, 6: " Qui 
i, ad 2: " Passio pro Christ o sus- martyrio dignus est habitus, laetitia 
cepta . . . purgat ab otnni culpa et in Domino efferatur, quod tantam 
veniali et mortali, nisi actualiter vo- coronam nactus fuerit. . . . Quam- 
luntatem peccato invenerit inhaeren- vis catechumenus sit, sine tristitia 
tern." excedat : passio enim pro Christo 

55 See Eschatology. On the three- perlata erit ei sincerior baptismus." 


Baptism of water death is signified; in the Baptism of 
blood it is incurred." 58 

58 Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 4, 9"o baptismo aquae. ... In 

p. 2, art. i, qu. 2, ad 2: "Ratio baptismo aquae mors significatur, hie 

autem quare efficaciam habet ma- autem suscipitur." For a fuller 

iorem est, quoniam in baptismo son- treatment of this topic cfr. Gihr, 

guinis amplior et plenior est imita- Die hi. Sakramente der kath. Kirche, 

tio et professio passionis Christi Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 271 sqq. 



Catholic theology makes a distinction between 
solemn Baptism (baptismus solemnis) and private 
Baptism, which is also called Baptism of neces 
sity (baptismus necessitatis) . Any one can ad 
minister private Baptism, whereas solemn Bap 
tism requires a specially qualified minister. The 
ordinary minister (minister or dinarius) of solemn 
Baptism is the bishop or priest. A deacon 
may administer the Sacrament solemnly only 
with the express permission of a bishop or priest, 
and consequently is called the extraordinary 
minister (minister extraordinarius) of the Sacra 




TISM. Baptism is called solemn when it is admin 
istered with all the prescribed ecclesiastical cere 
monies. These ceremonies are not essential to 
the validity of the Sacrament and are omitted 
when it is conferred privately. 1 

The ordinary minister of solemn Baptism is any 
validly ordained priest, who has the requisite ec 
clesiastical jurisdiction, that is to say, the bishop 
or any pastor or other priest duly authorized by 
either bishop or pastor to administer the Sac 
rament. The [ordinary] minister of this Sac 
rament [Baptism]/ says the Decretum pro Ar- 
nienis, "is the priest, to whose office it belongs to 
baptize." 2 

a) Our Lord s official mandate to baptize all 
nations 3 was addressed to the Apostles and their 
successors, /. e. the bishops, who, in turn, gave it 

l On the ceremonies of solemn 2 " Minister [ordinarius] huius 
Baptism cfr. Bellarmine, De Bapt,, sacramenti est sacerdos, cui ex of- 
c. 24-27; Chr. Pesch, Praelect. Dog- ficio competit baptizare." (Den- 
ma/., Vol. VI, 3rd ed., pp. 212 sqq., zinger-Bannwart, n. 696). 
Freiburg 1908; N. Gihr, Die hi. Sa- 3 Matth. XXVIII, 19. 
kramente der kath. Kirche, Vol. I, 
2nd ed., 39, Freiburg 1902. 


256 . BAPTISM 

to others when it became impossible for them to 
be the sole ministers of the Sacrament. Cfr. i 
Cor. I, 17: "Christ hath not sent me to baptize, 
but to preach the gospel." 4 St. Peter did not him 
self baptize Cornelius and his family, but "com 
manded them to be baptized." 5 From which it 
may be seen that Holy Scripture, to say the least, 
is not averse to the ministerium ordinarium of the 
priesthood in respect of Baptism. 

b) In the early days the solemn administration of Bap 
tism usually took place at Easter or Pentecost, and was 
regarded as the exclusive prerogative of the bishop. 6 
When Christianity gradually spread to the rural dis 
tricts, and the dioceses increased in size, simple priests 
were permitted to confer Baptism by virtue of their 
office, and the administration of this Sacrament became 
a prerogative of the pastors. Tertullian says : "Of giv 
ing Baptism, the chief priest, who is the bishop, has the 
right; in the next place the presbyters and deacons, not 
however, without the bishop s authority, on account of 
the honor of the Church." 7 St. Thomas states the rea 
son for this as follows : " Just as it belongs to a priest 
to consecrate the Eucharist, ... so it is the proper of 
fice of a priest to baptize ; since it seems to belong to one 

4 i Cor. I, 17: " Non enim misit tus erat circa baptisandos solus im- 

me Christus baptizare, sed evangeli- plere, quinque posted episcopi vix 

sare." implercnt." 

5 " lussit baptizari." (Acts X, T DC Bapt., c. 17: " Dandi qui- 

48). dem baptismum habet ius summits 

6 The biographer of St. Ambrose, sacerdos, qui est episcopus; dehinc 

Paulinus, says of him (De Vita S. presbyteri et diaconi, non tamen sine 

Ambros., apud Migne, P. L., XIV, episcopi auctoritate propter Eccle- 

27 sqq.) : " Erat in rebus divinis siae honor em." 
implendis fortissimus, ut quod soli- 


and the same person to produce the whole and to arrange 
the part in the whole." 8 

BAPTISM. The extraordinary ministry of the 
deacon in regard to Baptism comprises two essen 
tial elements: (a) the right to administer solemn 
Baptism, which is never granted to laymen, nor 
to clerics in minor orders; and (b) the special 
permission of bishop or pastor, given for an im 
portant reason. 

The right (a) is required to establish the order of the 
diaconate, while without the latter condition (b) bishops 
and priests would have no prerogative in matters of Bap 
tism over deacons. With regard to the first-mentioned 
point the Pontificate Romanum observes : " It belongs to 
the deacon to minister at the altar, to baptize, and to 
preach." 9 With regard to the last-mentioned point, the 
Catechism of the Council of Trent says : " Next to bish 
ops and priests come deacons, for whom, as numerous de 
crees of the holy Fathers attest, it is not lawful to ad 
minister this Sacrament without the leave of the bishop 
or priest." 10 

The extraordinary character of the preroga 
tive of deacons to confer Baptism is illustrated by 

8 Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 67, art. oportet ministrare ad altare, bap 
2: " Sicut ad sacerdotem pertinet tizare, et praedicare." 
consecrare Eucharistiam, . . . ita ad 10 P. II, c. 2, n. 23 : " Secun- 
proprium oflicium pertinet baptisare; durn ministrorum locum obtinent dia- 
eiitsdem enim videtur esse operari coni, quibus sine episcopi out sacer- 
totum et partem in toto disponere." dotis concessu non licere hoc sacra- 
Cf. Billuart, De Bapt., diss. 2, art. i. mentum administrare plurima sane- 

9 De Ordine Diac. : " Diaconum torum Patrum decreta testantur." 


the example of the deacon Philip, who, as the 
Acts of the Apostles tell us, baptized the eunuch 
of Queen Candace ll and a great number of other 
men and women in Samaria. 12 Nevertheless 
the Church has always insisted that, apart from 
cases of urgent necessity, deacons may not 
confer solemn Baptism except with the permission 
of a bishop or priest. 

Thus Pope Gelasius I (d. 496) admonished the bishops 
of Lucania : " Deacons must not presume to baptize 
without the permission of a bishop or priest, except in 
the absence of the aforesaid officials, if there be extreme 
necessity." 13 A similar passage occurs in the writings 
of St. Isidore (d. 636). 14 

11 Cfr. Acts VIII, 38. cul absentibus ultima languoris ne- 

12 Cfr. Acts VIII, 12. cessitas cogat." (Migne, P. L., 

13 Ep. ad Episc. Lucan., n. 7: LXXXIII, 822). For a more de- 
" Diaconi absque episcopo vel prcs- tailed treatment consult Suarez, De 
bytero baptisare non audeant, nisi Bapt., disp. 23, sect. 2. On the 
praedictis fortasse ofUciis longius sponsors (patrini, dvddoxoi) c ^ r - 
constitutes necessitas extrema com- Pescli, Praelect. Dogmat., Vol. VI, 
pellat." (Migne, P. L., LIX, 51). 3rd ed., pp. 210 sqq. On the cere- 

14 De Offic., II, 25, 9: " Constat monies of Baptism and their " paral- 
baptisma solis saccrdotibus esse trac- lels " in the ethnic religions of an- 
tandum eiusque ministerium nee ipsis tiquity see Cabrol, Dictionnaire, s. v. 
diaconis explere esse licitum absqus " Bapteme." 

episcopo vel presbytero, nisi his pro- 



In case of urgent necessity any human being, irre 
spective of sex or faith, can validly baptize. This teach 
ing is based on the fact that Baptism is necessary for 
salvation. 1 It is not a mere question of ecclesiastical 
discipline but a dogma, and can be rightly understood 
only in the light of Christ s implicit command, as in 
terpreted by Tradition. The Fourth Council of the Lat- 
eran (1215) declared: "The Sacrament of Baptism, 
. . . properly conferred, no matter by whom (a quocun- 
que rite collatum), is useful for salvation." 2 The phrase 
" a quocunque " was explained by the Council of Florence 
(1439) as follows: "In case of necessity, not only a 
priest or a deacon, but a lay man or woman, nay even a 
pagan and a heretic, can [validly] baptize, provided only 
that he observes the form prescribed by the Church and 
has the intention of doing what the Church does." 3 To 
set forth the process of clarification through which this 
teaching has passed, it will be best to proceed chrono 

1 V. supra, Ch. II, pp. 238 sqq. vel diaconus, sed etiam laicus vel 

2 Caput " Firmiter " : "Sacra- mulier, imo etiam paganus et haere- 
mentum vero baptismi ... a quo- ticus baptisare [licite] potest, dum- 
cunque rite collatum, proficit ad modo formant servet Ecclesiae et 
salutem." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. faccre intendat quod facit EC- 
430). clesia." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 

3 Decretum pro Armcnis: "In 696). 
casit necessitatis non solum sacerdos 



MEN. At a very early date it was believed that 
Catholic laymen (homines laid} could validly bap 
tize in cases of urgent necessity, and that even 
where no such necessity existed, lay Baptism was 
valid, though illicit. 

Tertullian says : " Besides these, even laymen have 
the right [to baptize] ; for what is equally received can 
be equally given." 4 

Several centuries later St. Jerome taught: "If neces 
sity urges, we know that even laymen are allowed [to 
baptize] ; for as one has received, he may also give." 5 
The argument embodied in this citation is, however, in 
conclusive and misleading. For if it were true that " what 
one has received, he may also give," it would be equally 
true that " one cannot give what he has not received," 
and Baptism would be invalid when administered by non- 
baptized persons, which is contrary to the teaching of the 

Augustine goes into the subject of lay Baptism at con 
siderable length. He says among other things : " If it 
is done where no urgent necessity compels, it is a usurpa 
tion of another s [i. e. the priest s] office. But when 
necessity urges, it is either no sin at all, or only a venial 
sin ; but though it is usurped without any necessity, and 
conferred by no matter whom on no matter whom, what 
is given cannot be said to have not been given, though it 
may truly be said that it is illicitly given." 6 

4 De Bapt., c. 17: " Alioquin et cere [baptisare ]; ut enim accepit 
laicis ius est; quod enim ex aequo quis, et dare potest." (Migne, P. 
[t. e. indiscriminatim ] accipitur, ex L., XXIII, 165). 

aequo dari potest." 6 Contr. Ep. Parmen,, 11,^3, 29: 

5 Dial. adv. Lucif., n. 9: "Sine- " Nulld cogente necessitate si fiat, 
cessitas cogit, scimus etiam laicis li- alieni muneris [t. e. sacerdotis } 


The Oriental Fathers were more reserved in regard to 
this question. St. Basil seems to have regarded lay 
Baptism as invalid. 7 In process of time, however, the 
Greek Church admitted its validity, though only on con 
dition that the baptizing layman be himself baptized, 
i. e. a Christian. In this form lay Baptism was incor 
porated into the canon law of the East. In 1672, a 
schismatic council held at Jerusalem decreed : " The 
minister of this [Sacrament] is the priest alone, but, in 
case of real and urgent necessity, any man [may baptize], 
provided only he be a Christian believer." 8 

Tertullian denied that Baptism can be validly con 
ferred by a heretic. 9 The question was hotly de 
bated in the famous controversy between St. Cyp 
rian (d. 258) and Pope Stephen I, who finally 
decided that repenting heretics must not be re- 
baptized but reconciled through the Sacrament of 
Penance. 10 

The First Ecumenical Council (325) forbade the re- 
baptism of heretics. When the controversy broke out 
anew, in the time of the Donatist schism, St. Augustine 

usurpatio est. Si autem necessitas vis homo, modo tanien fidelis." 

urgcat, out nullum out veniale de- Cfr. Gass, Symbolik der griechischcn 

lictum est; sed etsi nulla necessitate Kirche, p. 242, Berlin 1872. On the 

usurpetur, et a quolibet cuilibet de- teaching of other Oriental sects, see 

tur, quod datum fuerit, non pot est Denzinger, Ritus Orientalium, Vol. 

did non datum, quamvis recte did I, p. 21, Wiirzburg 1863. 
possit illidte datum." (Migne, P. o De Bapt., c. 15. 

L., LXIII, 71). 10 " Si quis ergo a quacunque 

1 Ep. ad Amphiloch., I, c. i (A haeresi venient ad nos, nihil innove- 

D. 374). tur nisi quod traditum est, ut manus 

8 Hardouin, Condi., XI, 250* iliis imponatur in poenitcntiam." 

" liuius minister sacerdos solus, (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 46). 
quin et urgente vera necessitate qui- 


vigorously defended the Nicene teaching. Lastly, the 
Council of Trent defined : " If any one saith that the 
Baptism which is given by heretics, ... is not a true Bap 
tism, let him be anathema." lx 

It is more difficult to understand how unbe 
lievers (pagans, Jews, Mohammedans, etc.) can 
validly baptize, and hence we need not wonder 
that this point was long contested. 

The false inference drawn from the argument used to 
defend the validity of Baptism when administered by lay 
men, 12 viz.: that no one can give what he does not himself 
possess, proved a serious obstacle to the correct under 
standing of the Sacrament and its administration. Even 
St. Augustine was puzzled. 13 Here, again, it was the 
Holy See which gave the final decision. St. Isidore ob 
serves: "The Roman Pontiff does not judge the man 
who baptizes, but [holds that] the Holy Ghost supplies 
the grace of Baptism, even though it be a pagan who 
baptizes." 14 The Council of Compiegne (757) confirmed 
the validity of a heretical Baptism with express reference 
to a decision of Pope Sergius (687-701). Nicholas I 
(d. 867) decided a case of conscience brought before him 
in the same sense. The Dec-return pro Armenis re- 

11 Sess. VII, De Bapt., can. 4: et ab his qui numquam fuerunt 
"Si quis dixerit, baptismum qui Christiani, baptismus possit dari; nee 
etiam datur ab haereticis, . . . non tamen inde aliquid affirmandum esl 
esse verum baptisma, anathema sit." sine auctoritate tanti concilii, quan- 
Cfr, J. Ernst, Die Ketsertauf- turn tantae rei sufficit." 
angelegenheit in der altchristlichen 14 De Offic., II, 25, 9: " Ro- 
Kirche nach Cyprian, Mainz 1901. manus Pontifex non hominem iudicat 

12 V. supra, No. i. qui baptizat, sed Spiritum Dei sub- 

13 Cfr. Ep. ad Parmcn., II, 13: ministrare gratiam baptismi, licet 
" Haec quidem alia quaestio, utrum paganus sit qui baptisat." 


affirmed the doctrine, and thus it has remained up to the 
present day. 

It may be noted that the power of unbelievers to baptize 
was virtually included in the ancient Christian 
maxim that " Baptism can be given by any one," and 
that the doctrine only needed to be worked out. 

validity of Baptism administered by women came 
to be recognized last of all and rather late. 

Tertullian 15 and Epiphanius 16 vigorously denounced 
certain women who claimed the right to baptize. It 
should be noted, however, that these women (Quintilla, 
the Collyridians, etc.) posed as priestesses, and presumed 
not only to baptize in cases of necessity, but to administer 
solemn Baptism. 17 Probably the invectives of Tertul 
lian, Epiphanius, and later writers were directed more 
against the presumption and disobedience of which these 
women were guilty than against the validity of Baptism 
administered by women in general. In view of St. Paul s 
command that women should " keep silence in the 
churches," 18 it is not likely that Baptism was often ad 
ministered by women in the primitive Church. To-day 
midwives give it quite frequently in cases of necessity. 
The first clear decision on the matter was issued in the 
eleventh century by Pope Urban II. 19 In principle, Ur- 
ban s teaching was already contained in the ancient prac- 

ir> De Bapt., c. 17. 19 Decret. Graf., causa 30, qu. 3, 

16 Haer., 79, n. 3. c. 4: "Super quibus consuluit nos 

17 Cfr. De Augustinis, De Re Sa- tua dilectio, hoc videtur nobis ex 
cramentaria, 2nd ed., Vol. I, pp. 393 sententia respondendum, ut et bap- 
sq. tismus sit, si instants necessitate 

18 i Cor. XIV, 34: " M ulieres in femina puerum in nomine Trinitatis 
ccclesiis taceant." baptizaverit." 


tice of lay Baptism, 20 because there is no hierarchic dis 
tinction between lay men and women. But it was not 
defined dogmatically until 1439, when the Decretum pro 
Armenis 21 recognized Baptism given by women as valid 
and permitted it in cases of urgent necessity. The dogma 
is convincingly demonstrated by St. Thomas in the third 
part of the Summa 22 

20 V. supra, No. i. Section the student may profitably 

21 V. supra, p. 259, note 3. consult P. Schanz, Die Lehre von 

22 Summa TheoL, 33, qu. 67, art. den hi. Sakramenten der kath. 
4. On the whole argument of this Kirche, 18, Freiburg 1893. 




The requisites of valid reception in the case of 
Baptism are mainly three: (i) The recipient 
must be a human being, (2) He must be in the 
wayfaring state (status viae), and (3) He must 
not have been previously baptized. 

Baptism was instituted for the purpose of blot 
ting out original sin, and therefore its effects are 
limited to the descendants of Adam. The bap 
tismal mandate (Matth. XXVIII, 19; Mark XVI, 
1 5 ) is intended only for the human race. A brute 
beast is as incapable of receiving Baptism as a 
pure spirit, and hence the story of the "baptized 
lion" in the so-called A eta Pauli is sufficient to 
brand that document as spurious. 1 

The general rule is that every living being 
born of a human female can receive Bap- 

1 Cfr. Holzhey, Die Thekla-Akten, Hire Verbreitung und Beurteilung 

in der Kirche, Munich 1905. 



tism. In case of doubt whether the recipient is a 
human being, the Sacrament should be adminis 
tered conditionally. 2 

ING STATE. Since Christ instituted His Sacra 
ments for this world, not for the next, it is self- 
evident that they can be received only in statu 
viae. This applies particularly to Baptism. It 
is a somewhat difficult question to decide, how 
ever, just where in a given case the wayfaring 
state begins and where it ends. 

(a) The terminus a quo, generally speaking, is 
the moment of birth. 

" He who has never been born cannot be born again/ 
says St. Augustine. 3 Consequently a child hidden in the 
maternal womb is incapable of receiving Baptism, and 
to baptize the mother in its stead would obviously be in 
valid. This explains the custom of treating still-born 
children as unbaptized and refusing them ecclesiastical 
burial. Quite another question is this : Is it necessary 
for a foetus to be fully developed in order to be ca 
pable of Baptism, or does the wayfaring state begin 
at the moment when the soul is infused into the body? 
As the human foetus is a person independent of the 
mother, its existence plainly begins with the infusion 
of the intellectual soul. Hence it is reasonable and cus 
tomary to baptize the foetus in case of premature birth 
as well as a full-grown child not yet brought to light when 

2 On abnormalities, see Capell- 3 De Pecc. Mer. et Remiss., II, 

mann. Pastoralmedizin, i6th ed., pp. 27, 43: " Qui natus non fuerit, 
124 sqq. ; A. J. Schulte, On the Ad- renasci non potest." 
ministration of Baptism, pp. 14 sq., 
Phila. 1915. 


there is danger of death, and to rebaptize conditionally 
only when it has been impossible to reach the head.* 

b) The status viae ends with death. To bap 
tize a corpse would be both illicit and invalid; 
Benedict XIV has expressly forbidden it. 

It belongs to competent medical authority to decide 
whether or not in a given case death has set in. There 
is a curious passage in St. Paul s First Epistle to 
the Corinthians, which has been cited in favor of baptiz 
ing the dead and therefore requires a word of explana 
tion. The Apostle says : " Otherwise what shall they 
do that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not 
again at all ? Why are they then baptized for them ? " 5 
This passage is obscure and anything but relevant to the 
point. If the Corinthians were accustomed to baptize liv 
ing persons in place of the dead, St. Paul surely did not 
mean to approve the practice, but merely cited it as an 
argumentum ad hominem to prove the dogma of the resur 
rection. In that hypothesis there would be question of 
baptizing not the dead, but living substitutes for the 
benefit of the dead. 6 Most likely, however, the text refers 
to a symbolic intercession, consisting of works of pen 
ance voluntarily assumed by living relatives or friends for 
the spiritual benefit of the departed. 7 

This requisite follows logically from the unity of 
Baptism and the fact that it cannot be repeated. 8 

4 Cfr. J. E. Pruner, Lehrbuch der 6 Cfr. on this obscure Pauline text 
Pastoraltheologie, Vol. I, 2nd ed., Al. Schafer, Erklarung der beiden 
pp. 151 sqq., Paderborn 1904. Brief e an die Korinther, pp. 321 

5 i Cor. XV, 29: " Alioquin quid sqq., Minister 1903. 

facient qui baptizantur pro mortuis 7 Cfr. the new Westminster Ver- 

(virep TUV veKpwv), si omnino mor- sion, i. h. /., and MacRory s com- 
tui non resurgunt? Ut quid et mentary, pp. 238 sqq. 
baptizantur pro illis (/SaTTTifovrai 8 On the intention of the baptizan- 

virep aVTUv) ? " dus as a requisite of validity v. 

supra, pp. 196 sqq. 



regard to the Baptism of infants, and in general 
of those who have not yet reached the use of rea 
son (paedobaptismus) , there arises a twofold 
question: (i) Can infants validly receive the 
Sacrament? and (2) Should it be administered 
to children before they have attained the years 
of discretion? 

a) In the first three centuries of the Christian era the 
Church tolerated, without, however, in any way approv 
ing, the practice of delaying Baptism to an advanced 
age, sometimes even to the hour of death. 9 In 1439, the 
Council of Florence forbade the postponement of Baptism 
even for forty or eighty days. Since the Tridentine 
Council it is a strict ecclesiastical precept that infants 
must be baptized as soon as possible after birth. 

The chief opponents of infant Baptism are the Anabap 
tists (or re-baptizers : dm) in Germany; the Antipedobap- 
tists (dvTi, TTCUS, /3a7mw) in England, a name which is now 
commonly shortened into Baptists ; and the Mennonites. 10 

9 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, " who use immersion, are specially 
De Bapt., can. 12. (Denzinger- careful in the application of the mat- 
Bannwart, n. 868). ter and form and there is little room 

10 " The Baptists," says Fr. Hunt- for doubt as to the validity of their 
er (.Outlines, Vol. Ill, p. 118), Baptisms; it is, therefore, the more 



b) The Second Council of Mileve (416) anath 
ematized all "who deny that new-born infants 
should be baptized immediately after birth." n 
The Tridentine Council declared: "If anyone 
saith that little children, because they have not 
actual faith, are not, after having received Bap 
tism, to be reckoned among the faithful, and that 
for this cause they are to be rebaptized when they 
have attained to years of discretion, or that it is 
better that the Baptism of such be omitted than 
that, while not believing by their own act, they 
should be baptized in the faith alone of the 
Church, let him be anathema." 12 Hence it is an 
article of faith that the Baptism of infants is 
valid, because it incorporates them into the body 
of the Church, and may not be repeated after 
they have attained the use of reason. 13 

As the validity of infant Baptism is neither posi- 

unfortunate that they refuse to ad- 12 Sess. VII, De Bapt., can. 13: 

minister the Sacrament to infants." " Si quis dixerit, parvulos eo quod 

On the Mennonites see N. A. actum credendi non habent suscepto 

Weber in the Cath. Encyclopedia, baptismo inter fideles computandos 

Vol. X, page 190. On Baptism non esse ac propterea, quum ad an- 

among modern Protestants gener- nos discretionis pervenerint, esse re- 

ally, consult A. Seeberg, Die Taufe baptizandos, aut praestare omitti 

im Neuen Testament, 1905; Rend- eorum baptisma quam eos non actu 

torff, Die Taufe im Urchristentum proprio credentes baptisari in sola 

im Lichte der neueren Forschungen, fide Ecclesiae, anathema sit." (Den- 

1905; Roberts, Christian Baptism, zinger-Bannwart, n. 869). 

Its Significance and its Subjects, 13 Cfr. the Catholic teaching on 

London 1905. original sin, as explained in Pohle- 

11 Can. 2: " Quicunque parvulos Preuss, God the Author of Nature 

recentes ab uteris matrum baptisan- and the Supernatural, pp. 232 sqq. 
dos negat, . . . anathema sit." 
(Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 102). 


lively asserted nor practically exemplified in Holy 
Writ, it is impossible to demonstrate this dogma 
conclusively from Scripture. It can, however, be 
so convincingly proved from Tradition that the 
great mass of Protestants prefer to contradict 
their own system by tacitly admitting the Catholic 
principle of Tradition, rather than surrender the 
ancient and universal practice of infant Bap 
tism. 14 

a) Though, as we have already remarked, infant Bap 
tism cannot be demonstrated from the Bible, the Catholic 
dogma of its validity, far from being unscriptural, is in 
perfect conformity with the spirit of God s written Reve 
lation. In the first place, when, as was frequently the 
case (cfr. Acts XVI, 15; i Cor. I, 16), whole families 
were baptized, it is likely that sometimes there were little 
children among them. The Catholic dogma, moreover, 
fully agrees with the Scriptural teaching on the nature 
and necessity of Baptism. From our Lord s dictum that 
the kingdom of heaven is for little children, and His 
solemn declaration that " unless a man be born again of 
water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the king 
dom of God," 15 we may legitimately conclude that infants 
not only may but must be " born again," i. e. baptized. It 

14 Thus the catechism, which forms site faith in case the child die be- 
part of the Book of Common Prayer fore reaching the years of discre- 
of the Anglican Church, explains tion," observes Fr. Hunter (Out- 
that faith is required of persons to lines, Vol. Ill, p. 221), "is not 
be baptized, and that infants who explained, nor is it made clear 
have no faith are baptized because whether Baptism may be valid in 
their godparents promise that they the absence of godparents; and 
shall have the faith hereafter, a many other similar doubts may be 
promise which they themselves are raised as to the meaning." 
in due time bound to perform. 15 Matth. XIX, 14; John III, 5. 
" How this view secures the requi- 


should be noted, too, that the Jewish rite of circumcision, 
which was preeminently the type of Christian Baptism, 16 
would have foreshadowed that Sacrament but very imper 
fectly, to say the least, if the children of the New Testa 
ment were deprived of the means of obtaining forgive 
ness of original sin, a privilege which was granted to 
the children of the Old Testament Jews. 

b) Tradition was already crystallized at the 
time of St. Augustine, who triumphantly opposed 
the practice of infant Baptism to the Pelagian de 
nial of original sin. 17 Hence we can limit the 
Patristic argument to the pre-Augustinian period. 
Augustine himself states the belief and practice 
of that period as follows: "The infants are 
brought to church, and if they cannot go there on 
their own feet, they run with the feet of oth 
ers. . . . Let no one among you, therefore, mur 
mur strange doctrines. This the Church has al 
ways had, this she has always held; this she re 
ceived from the faith of the ancients; this she 
preserves tenaciously to the end." 18 

St. Cyprian (d. 258), speaking in his own name and in 
that of his fellow-bishops at the Council of Carthage 
(253), said to Fidus: " No one agrees with you in your 
opinion as to what should be done, but we all, on the 

16 V. supra, pp. 22 sqq. alienis pedibus currunt. . . . Nemo 

17 Cfr. Pohle-Preuss, God the Au- ergo vobis susurret alienas doctrinas. 
thor of Nature and the Supernat- Hoc Ecclesia semper habuit, semper 
ural, p. 253. tenuit; hoc a maiorum fide accepit; 

is Se rm., 176, n. 2: " Et ipsi hoc usque in fineni pcrseveranter cu- 
[parvuli] portantur ad ecclesiam, et stodit." (Migne, P. L., XXXVIII, 
si pedibus illuc currere non possunt, 950). 


contrary, judge that to no one born of man was the mercy 
and the grace of God to be denied." 19 St. Augustine ex 
plains this utterance as follows : " The Blessed Cyprian, 
not forming any new decree, but maintaining the assured 
faith of the Church, in order to correct those who held 
that an infant should not be baptized before the eighth 
day, gives it as his own judgment and that of his fellow- 
bishops, that a child can be validly baptized as soon as 
born." 20 

In the East, at about the same time, Origen says: 
" The Church hath received it as a tradition from the 
Apostles that infants, too, ought to be baptized." 21 

Long before either St. Cyprian or Origen, St. Irenaeus 
of Lyons (b. about 140) wrote : " Christ came to save 
all through Himself, all, I say, who through Him are 
born again in God : infants and little children and boys 
and young men and old men." 22 

Recent discoveries in the Roman catacombs prove that 
infant Baptism was common in the primitive Church. 
Thus a certain Murtius Verinus placed on the tomb 
of his children the inscription: " Verina received [Bap 
tism] at the age of ten months, Fiorina at the age of 
twelve months." Above another tomb we read : " Here 

19 Ep. 64, n. 2, ed. Hartel, II, episcopis censuit." (Migne, P. L., 
718: "In hoc quod tu puiabas essc XXXIII, 731). 

faciendum nemo consentit, sed iini- 21 In Ep. ad Rom., V, n. 9 

versi potins iudicavimus nulli ho- (Migne, P. G., XIV, 1047). 

minum nato misericordiam Dei et 22 Adv. Haer., II, 22, 4: " O nines 

gratiam denegandam." venit IChristus] per semetipsum sal- 

20 Ep. i66 ad Hier., n. 23: vare, omnes inquam, qui per ipsum 
" Beatus Cyprianus, non aliquod de- renascuntur in Deum: infantes et 
cretum condens novum, sed Ecclesiae parvulos et pueros et iuvenes et 
fidem firmissimam servans, ad corri- seniores." (Migne, P. G., VII, 
gendum eos qui putabant ante oc- 784). Cfr. A. Seitz, Die Heilsnot- 
tavum diem nativitatis non esse wendigkeit der Kirche nach der alt- 
parvulum baptisandum, . . . mo.v christlichen Literatur bis zur Zeit 
natum rite baptisari posse cum suis des hi. Augustinus, pp. 298 sqq., 

Freiburg 1903. 


rests Achillia, a newly -baptized [infant] ; she was one 
year and five months old, died February 23rd." 23 

3. A DOGMATIC COROLLARY. The dogma of 
the validity of infant Baptism imposes on those 
who have been baptized in infancy the strict duty 
of keeping the baptismal vow made for them by 
their sponsors. Erasmus demand that baptized 
children should be left free to ratify that vow or 
to repudiate it when they attain to the years of dis 
cretion, was rejected by the Tridentine Council 
with the declaration : "If any one saith that those 
who have been thus baptized when children, are 
to be asked when they have grown up, whether 
they will ratify what their sponsors promised in 
their names when they were baptized, and that, 
in case they answer that they will not, they are 
to be left to their own will, ... let him be anath 
ema." 24 

To admit the contention of Erasmus, which is 
unblushingly put into practice by modern Ration 
alists, is like unfurling the banner of revolution 
within the sacred precincts of the Church. 

23 Cfr. A. Weber, Die romischen 24 Sess. VII, De Bapt., can. 14: 
Katakomben, 3rd ed., p. 60, Ratis- " Si quis dixerit, huiusmodi parvu- 
bon 1906. On the subject of in- los baptizatos, quum adoleverint, in 
fant Baptism the student may prof- terrogandos esse, an ratum habere 
itably consult Cardinal Bellarmine, velint, quod patrini eorum nomine, 
De Baptismo, c. 8-n; Risi, De Bap- dutn baptisarentur, polliciti stint, et 
tismo Parvulorum in Primitive, EC- ubi se nolle rcsponderint, suo esse 
clesia, Rome 1870; W. Wall, His- arbitrio relinquendos, . . . anathema 
tory of Infant Baptism, 2 vols., Lon- sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 870). 
don 1900, 


To allow a baptized child, when he attains the use of 
reason, to choose freely between the true and a false re 
ligion, to decide whether he will keep the holy law of God 
or repudiate it at pleasure, betrays rank indifferent- 
ism. One sometimes hears the objection: "How can 
a promise given without my knowledge and consent by 
some other person, bind my conscience, so long as I have 
not expressly recognized and accepted the duty it im 
poses ? " We answer that the baptismal vow derives its 
binding force not from the circumstance that it is made by 
the sponsors in the name of the baptized child, but from 
the fact that Baptism, by its very nature as well as by a 
positive divine ordinance, initiates the recipient into the 
Catholic religion and, by virtue of the baptismal character 
which it imprints on the soul, constitutes him a subject of 
Christ and the Church. By Baptism a man is, as it were, 
born into the society of the faithful and thereby im 
mediately subjected to the law of Christ, just as the chil 
dren of the Israelites became subject to the Mosaic law 
by circumcision. As man by the fact of being born 
a rational being, is bound to observe the moral law* of na 
ture and the positive laws of his country, no matter 
whether he approves of them or not, so, through the 
fact of his being born again of water and the Holy Ghost, 
he is incorporated into the Church and becomes subject 
to her laws. And as one need not ratify his physi 
cal birth by an act of formal and express approval, 
so a Christian has no right to make his supernatural re 
birth conditional upon his subsequent consent. The cus 
tomary renewal of the baptismal vow at solemn first Com 
munion has for its object, not to permit the children to 
decide whether they will or will not ratify the promise 
made for them by their sponsors, but to give them an op- 


portunity of freely promising to do what they are bound 
to do in any event. 

READINGS : The Scholastic commentators on Peter Lombard s 
Liber Sententiarum, IV, dist. 3, and on St. Thomas, *Summa 
Theol., 33, qu. 66; especially Billuart, Tract, de Baptismo (ed. Le- 
quette, Vol. VI, pp. 253 sqq.). Bellarmine, De Sacramento Bap- 
tismi (Opera Omnia, ed. J. Fevre, Vol. Ill, pp. 513 sqq., Paris 
1870). *Tournely, De Baptismo (in Migne, Curs. Theol. Com- 
plet., Vol. XXI). Bertieri, De Sacramentis in Geneve, Baptismo 
et Confirmatione, Vienna 1774. Zimmermann, De Baptismi Ori- 
gine eiusque Usu Hodierno, 1815. Hofling, Das Sakrament der 
Taufe, 2 vols., 1846, 1848. M. J. Ryan, De Doctrina S. loannis 
circa Baptismum, Rochester 1908. *J. Corblet, Histoire Dogma- 
tique, Liturgique et Archeologique du Sacrement de Bapteme, 2 
vols., Paris 1881. Fanning, s. v. " Baptism," in the Catholic En 
cyclopedia, Vol. II. P. Drew, s. v. " Baptism," in the New 
Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. I. 

Cfr. also the treatises on Baptism in the following works : 
*Probst, Sakramente und Sakramentalien in den ersten drei Jahr- 
hunderten, Tubingen 1872 ; De Augustinis, De Re Sacramentaria, 
Vol. I, 2nd ed., Rome 1899 ; P. Schanz, Die Lehre von den hi. Sa- 
kramenten der kath. Kirche, 14 sqq., Freiburg 1893 ; L. Billot, De 
Ecclesiae Sacramentis, Vol. I, 4th ed., Rome 1907; Oswald, Die 
dogmatische Lehre von den hi. Sakramenten, Vol. I, 5th ed., Mini 
ster 1894; Chr. Pesch, Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Vol. VI, 3rd ed., 
Freiburg 1908; Tepe, Institutions Theologicae, Vol. IV, Paris 
1896 ; J. B. Sasse, De Sacramentis Ecclesiae, Vol. I, Freiburg 1897 ; 
P. Einig, Tractatus de Sacramentis, Treves 1900; *Heinrich-Gut- 
berlet, Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. IX, Mainz 1901 ; Nik. Gihr, 
Die hi. Sakramente der kath. Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd ed., Freiburg 
1902; Cabrol, Dictionnaire d Archeologie Chretienne et de Litur- 
gie, s. v. " Bapteme," Paris 1903 sqq. ; Fr. Dolger, Der Exorzismus 
im altchristlichen Taufritual. Eine religionsgeschichtliche Studie, 
Paderborn 1909; W. Koch, Die Taufe im Neuen Testament, 
Miinster 1910; S. J. Hunter, Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 
Ill, pp. 214-233, London 1894; Wilhelm-Scannell, A Manual of 
Catholic Theology, Vol. II, pp. 378-392, 2nd ed., London 1901 ; 
W. Humphrey, The One Mediator, pp. 81 sqq., London 1890; A. 
Devine, The Sacraments Explained, pp. 134 sqq., 3rd ed., London 


The Sacrament of Confirmation owes its 
name to the fact that it was always regarded 
as a making fast or sure (/Je/fotWis, confirmatio) , a 
perfecting or completing (reAttWts, consummatio) 
in relation to Baptism. In ancient times these 
two Sacraments were generally administered to 

From its effects Confirmation is known as the " Sacra 
ment of the Holy Ghost " (sacramentum Spiritus Sancti) 
and also as the " Sacrament of the Seal " (signaculum, 
sigillwn, <r<f>payk, from vQpayi&iv, to confirm). It should 
be noted, however, that in the first two centuries of the 
Christian era the words o-^payis and reAetov were fre 
quently applied to Baptism. 

From the external rite Confirmation was formerly also 
called " the laying-on of hands " (impositio manuum, 
cTTifcats \*ipi*v) or " anointing with chrism " (unctio, chris- 
matio, xpioyxa, fjivpov). To-day these names are no longer 
in use, but the Sacrament is commonly known as " Con- 
firmatio " in the Latin and TO fjLvpov in the Greek Church. 

Confirmation may be defined as a Sacrament in which 
those already baptized, through the imposition of hands, 
anointment, and the prayer of the bishop, receive the 
power of the Holy Ghost, by which they are enabled to be- 



lieve firmly and to profess the faith boldly. The Coun 
cil of Trent contented itself with three short canons on 
the subject, 1 which are appended to those dealing with 
Baptism. Confirmation both internally and externally 
bears so close a relation to Baptism that we may safely 
treat it along the same lines. 

i Sess. VII, De Confirm., can. 1-3. 




OF THE CHURCH. No ancient or medieval sect 
ever denied the Sacrament of Confirmation. 

a) The Novatians underrated its necessity for salva 
tion. 2 The Albigenses (and possibly the Waldenses) de 
nied its divine institution. The Wiclifites and Hussites 
entertained wrong notions with regard to the requisites 
of validity in the minister. But it remained for Luther, 
Melanchthon, Calvin, and the rest of the so-called Protes 
tant reformers to reject Confirmation altogether, or at 
least to regard it as " an idle ceremony," " a kind of cate 
chism/ " a renewal of the baptismal vow," and so forth. 
The worst offender was Calvin, who referred to this sub 
lime rite as " the abortive larva of a sacrament," " a false 
promise of the devil," and in other abusive terms. 3 Cal 
vin s example was followed by Dallseus, Basnage, and 
Antonio de Dominis, apostate archbishop of Spalato 

2 Cfr. Theodoret, Haer. Fabul. t 3 Instit. IV, 9: " abortivam sa- 

III, 5: "... Us quos baptisabant, cramenti larvam," " baptismi contu- 
chrisma non praebent." meliam," " falsam diaboli pollicita- 

2 7 8 


b) The Council of Trent declares that Con 
firmation is one of the Seven Sacraments of the 
Church, 4 and that it is a true Sacrament, distinct 
from Baptism. "If any one saith that the Con 
firmation of those who have been baptized is an 
idle ceremony, and not rather a true and proper 
Sacrament, or that of old it was nothing more 
than a kind of catechism whereby they who were 
near adolescence gave an account of their faith 
in the face of the Church, let him be anathema." 5 

Since it cannot be shown directly from the Bible 
when and how Christ instituted Confirmation, we 
have to fall back upon an indirect argument, 
which will, however, prove conclusive in the light 
of ecclesiastical Tradition. 

a) Holy Scripture furnishes the following 
data : 

a) Christ promised before His Passion 6 that those who 
believed in Him should receive the Holy Ghost. This 
promise He repeated after the Resurrection. Luke 
XXIV, 49 : "I send the promise of my Father upon you ; 
but stay you in the city, till you be endued with power 
from on high." 7 The fulfilment came on Pentecost, when 

tionem," "oleum diaboli mendacio sacramentum, out olim nihil aliud 

pollutum," " oleum putidum," etc. fuisse quam catechesin quondam, 

4 Sess. VII, De Sacram., can. i. ... anathema sit." (Denzinger- 

B Sess. VII, De Confirm., can. i: Bannwart, n. 871). 

" Si quis dixerit, confirmalionem C Cfr. John XIV, 16. 

baptizatorum otiosam cerimoniam 7 Luc. XXIV, 49: " Et ego 

esse et non potius verum et proprium 


" they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." 8 The re 
sults were wonderful beyond expectation. Inspired by 
the Holy Ghost, the disciples spoke in divers tongues, 
wrought miracles, fearlessly professed their faith in 
Christ, and suffered martyrdom for His sake. 

/?) The mission of the Holy Ghost was not limited to 
the Apostles and disciples. It was intended for all the 
faithful without exception. Cfr. John VII, 37 sq. : " On 
the last and great day of the festivity, Jesus stood and 
cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to me, 
and drink. He that believeth in me, as the scripture saith, 
Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." St. 
John adds by way of explanation : " Now this he said 
of the Spirit 9 which they should receive who believed 
in him ; 10 for as yet the Spirit was not given, because 
Jesus was not yet glorified." 1X 

A universal outpouring of the Holy Ghost in the 
Messianic age had been foreshadowed by the prophets. 
Cfr. Is. XLIV, 3; LIX, 21 ; Ez. XI, 19; XXXVI, 25 sq.; 
XXXIX, 29; Joel II, 28. The pentecostal gift was un 
derstood by St. Peter as a grace intended for all, for 
he says : " Do penance, and be baptized every one of 
you 12 in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of 
your sins : and you shall receive the gift of the Holy 
Ghost. 13 For the promise 14 is to you, and to your chil 
dren, and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord 
our God shall call." 

mitto promissum Patris mei (ryv 10 oi Trio~TVOVTes els avTOv = 

eirayyeXiav TOV irarpos //.ou) in vos; omnes Christifideles. 

vos autem sedete in civitate quoad- n John VII, 39. 

usque induamini virtute ex alto." 12 eKaaros vpuv* The passage is 

8 Acts II, 4: " Et repleti sunt Acts II, 38 sq. 

omnes Spiritu Sancto." 13 r^v dwpeav TOV ayiov 

9 TTCpl TOV TTVeVflaTOS- T03- 

14 i 


y) The only question that remains to be an 
swered is : Was the Holy Ghost to be communi 
cated to the faithful by means of a special out 
ward rite distinct from Baptism? The answer 
may be gathered from the following Scriptural 
texts. Acts VIII, 14 sqq. : "When the Apos 
tles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Sa 
maria had received the word of God, they sent 
unto them Peter and John, who, when they were 
come, prayed for them, that they might receive 
the Holy Ghost ; for He was not as yet come upon 
any of them, but they were only baptized in the 
name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their 
hands upon them, and they received the Holy 
Ghost. 15 And when Simon [Magus] saw, that 
by the imposition of the hands of the Apostles, the 
Holy Ghost was given, 16 he offered them money/ 
etc. From this passage we may infer : ( i ) that 
the Apostles imparted the Holy Ghost by the lay- 
ing-on of hands, i. e. by means of a sacramental 
rite; (2) that this rite was distinct from Baptism, 
the people of Samaria having been previously bap 
tized by Philip ; (3) that the power to perform this 
ceremony was reserved to the Apostles, i. e. 
bishops, else why should Peter and John, during 
a time of persecution, have risked their lives to go 
to Samaria? (4) That the imposition of hands 

15 TOTC CTreriOfffav ras x et "P aS 1C Tl 8ia TTJS firidtfffus rwv 

T avrovs Kal fKa^avov Trvevfj-a X 1 P& V r &v airoffroKuv didorat rb 
iov. jrvevfjia rb 


was regarded as a necessary complement of, and 
consequently as a true Sacrament distinct from, 
Baptism. 17 

The Protestant objection that the imposition of hands 
had for its sole purpose the conferring of certain ex 
traordinary gifts (charismata), such as speaking with 
divers tongues, prophesying, etc., is refuted by the fact 
that those gifts were sometimes bestowed without any 
external rite 18 and that they neither invariably nor neces 
sarily accompanied Confirmation. 19 

b) Ecclesiastical Tradition is perfectly clear on 
this subject. Belief in the divine institution of 
Confirmation was firmly established in St. Au 
gustine s time, and hence it will suffice to demon 
strate its existence during the preceding period. 20 

a) St. Jerome (d. 420), who was so ardent a cham 
pion of the rights of the priesthood, speaks of episcopal 
Confirmation tours as customary in his time 21 and proves 
their propriety from Scripture and Tradition. " You 
ask, where is it written? In the Acts of the Apostles. 
But even if Sacred Scripture supplied no authority [for 
the custom], the consensus of the whole world would 
give it the force of a precept." 22 Pope St. Innocent the 

17 On the scriptural argument in I Ep. loan., 6, n. 10; In Ps., 26, 

drawn from Acts XIX, i sqq., see n. 2. 

Pohle-Preuss, The Divine Trinity, 21 Dial. adv. Lucif., n. 9: " Non 
pp. 101 sqq. Cfr. Fr. Dolger, Das quidem abnuo, hanc esse ecclesiarum 
Sakrament der Firmung, pp. 27 sqq., consuetudinem, ut ad eos qui longe 
Vienna 1906. a maioribus per presbyteros et dia 
ls Cfr. Acts X, 44 sqq. conos baptisati sunt, episcopus ad 

19 Cfr. i Cor. XII, 30. invocationem Spiritus Sancti manus 

20 On the teaching of St. Augus- impositurus excurrat." 

tine v. supra, pp. 79 sqq. Of the 22 Ibid.: " Exigis, ubi scriptum 

Saint s writings see especially Tract. sitf In actibus Apostolorum. 


First (402-414) issued detailed instructions with regard 
to the administration of the Sacrament. " As regards the 
sealing of infants," he says, " it is clear that it may 
not lawfully be done by any one but a bishop. For pres 
byters, though they be priests of the second rank, have 
not attained to the summit of the pontificate. That this 
pontifical right belongs to bishops only, to wit, that they 
may seal or deliver the Spirit, the Paraclete, is demon 
strated not merely by ecclesiastical usage, but also by that 
portion of the Acts of the Apostles wherein it is declared 
that Peter and John were sent to give the Holy Ghost to 
those who had already been baptized. For when presby 
ters baptize, whether with or without the presence of a 
bishop, they may anoint the baptized with chrism, pro 
vided it be previously consecrated by a bishop, but not 
sign the forehead with that oil, which is a right reserved 
to bishops only, when they give the Spirit, the Paraclete. 
The words, however, I cannot name, for fear of seeming 
to betray rather than to reply to the point on which you 
have consulted me." 23 

St. Cyprian (d. 258) writes: " The Samaritans had 
already obtained legitimate ecclesiastical Baptism, and 

Etiamsi S. Scripturae auctoritas non Actuum Apostolorum, quae asserit 

subesset, totius orbis in hanc par- Petrum et loannem esse directos, 

tern consensus instar praecepti ob- qui iam baptisatis traderent Spiritum 

tineret." Sanctum. Nam presbyteris sive ex- 

23 Ep. (25) " Si instituta ecclesi- tra episcopum, sive praesente epi- 

astica," ad Decent. Episc. Eugubin.: scopo quum baptizant, christnate bap- 

" De consignandis vero infantibus tisatos ungere licet, sed quod ab 

manifestum est, non ab olio quam ab episcopo fuerit consecratum, non 

episcopo fieri licere. Nam presby- tamen frontem ex eodem oleo si- 

teri, licet secundi sint sacerdotes, gnare, quod solis debetur episcopis, 

pontificates tamen apicem non ha- quum tradunt Spiritum Paracletum. 

bent. Hoc autem pontificium solis I erba vero dicere non possum, ne 

deberi episcopis, ut vel consignent, magis prodere videar, quam ad con- 

i d Paracletum Spiritum tradant, non sultationem respondere." (Den- 

solum consuetudo ecclesiastica de- zinger-Banmvart, n. 98). 
monsiral, vcrum etiam et ilia lectio 


hence it was not fitting that they should be baptized 
anew; Peter and John merely supplied what was want 
ing, viz. : that prayer being made for them and hands im 
posed, the Holy Ghost should be invoked and poured 
forth upon them ; which also is now done among us ; so 
that they who are baptized in the Church are presented 
to the bishops of the Church, and by our prayer and 
the imposition of hands, receive the Holy Ghost and are 
perfected by the seal of the Lord." 24 

At about the same time, Pope St. Cornelius (251-253) 
refers to Confirmation in his judgment against the no 
torious Novatian, who, after having been baptized on his 
sick-bed, " did not receive the other things, nor was he 
signed with the seal of the Lord by the bishop ; and not 
having received this seal, how could he receive the Holy 
Ghost?" 25 

Tertullian was familiar with the rite of Confirmation, 
for he says in his treatise De Baptismo: " Then, emerg 
ing from the laver, we are anointed with a blessed unc 
tion. . . . The unction runs bodily over us, but profits 
spiritually. . . . Then the hand is laid upon us through 
the blessing, calling upon and inviting the Holy Ghost." 2G 

24 Ep. 73 ad lubaian., n. 9, ed. 25 Ep. ad Fabium, quoted by Eu- 

Hartel, II, 785 : " Samaritani quia sebius, Hist. Eccles., VI, 43 : 

legitimum et ecclesiasticum baptis- " Morbo tandem elapsus neque cetera 

mum consecuti fuerant, baptisari eos acquisivit neque Domini sigillo ab 

ultra non oportcbat; sed tantum- episcopo obsignatus fuit; hoc autem 

modo quod deerat, id a Petro et signaculo minime percepto quomodo 

loanne factum est, ut oratione pro Spiritum Sanctum potuit acciperef " 

Us habita et manu imposita invo- 26 De Bapt., c. 7: " Exinde 

caretur et infunderetur super eos egressi de lavacro perungimur bene- 

Spiritus Sanctus, quod nunc quoque dicta unctione . . . Sic et in nobis 

apud nos geritur, ut qui in Ecclesia carnaliter currit unctio, sed spiritU 

baptisantur, praepositis ecclesiae of- aliter proficit." Ibid., c. 8: " De- 

ferantur et per nostram orationem hinc manus imponitur per benedic- 

et manuum impositionem Spiritum tionem advocans et invitans Spiritum 

Sanctum consequantur et signaculo Sanctum." 
dominico consummentur." 


According to the recent researches of Dolger, 27 Con 
firmation in the time of Tertullian and St. Cyprian was 
administered immediately after Baptism. The neophyte 
was anointed from head to foot, clothed in white, and led 
before the bishop, who, laying his hand upon him, invoked 
the Holy Ghost and made the sign of the cross (signacu- 
lum) on his forehead. 

Pope Sylvester I (d. 335) separated the two anoint 
ments, permitting the priest to perform the former and 
reserving the latter (on the forehead) to the bishop. 
Tertullian 28 protests against a mock confirmation prac 
ticed by the votaries of the Mithraic cult, which cere 
mony, Cumont 29 thinks, consisted in branding the candi 
date with a red-hot iron, possibly accompanied by some 
sort of unction. 

/8) In the Greek Church, St. John Chrysostom, who 
was a contemporary of St. Augustine, writes : " Philip 
was one of the seven, the second [in rank] after Stephen. 
Hence, when he baptized, he did not communicate to the 
neophytes the Holy Ghost, because he had not the power 
to do so. This gift was peculiar to the twelve, a preroga 
tive of the Apostles; whence we see [even now] that 
the coryphaei [bishops] and none other do this." 30 

St. Basil (d. 379) barely hints at the existence of Con 
firmation : " We bless the water of Baptism and the oil of 
unction by what written authority ? Is it not rather in 
virtue of a secret and hidden tradition ? " 31 

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) is the great Eastern 
authority on the subject. In his famous Catecheses My- 
stagogicae, delivered to the newly baptized Christians 

27 Das Sakrament der Firmung, 30 Horn, in Act., 18, n. 3 (Migne, 
pp. 65 sqq. P. G., LX, 144). 

28 De Praescript., c. 40. 31 De Spir. S., c. 27. 
2D Die Mysterien des Mithra, p. 

117, Leipzig 1898. 


in Easter week, he extols Confirmation in such glowing 
terms that the Lutheran theologian Chemnitz jestingly 
refers to this Sacrament as " chrisma Cyrillianum." In 
the third Catechesis, which is entirely devoted to Con 
firmation, we read : " To you also, after you had come 
up from the pool of the sacred streams, was given the 
chrism, the emblem [antitype] of that wherewith Christ 
was anointed; and this is the Holy Ghost. . . . Beware 
of regarding this as a plain and common ointment. For 
as the bread of the Eucharist, after the invocation of 
the Holy Ghost, is no longer common bread, but the body 
of Christ, so this holy ointment, after the invocation, is 
no longer plain ointment, nor, so to say, common, but 
the chrism of Christ, which by the presence of the god 
head causes in us the Holy Ghost. This symbolically 
anoints thy forehead and thy other senses ; and the body 
indeed is anointed with visible ointment (ro> /xupw), but 
the soul is sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit." 32 

It is extremely probable that St. Theophilus of Antioch 
(d. about 1 80) had the Sacrament of Confirmation in 
mind when he wrote : " Assuredly we have received 
the name of Christians for no other reason than because 
we were overspread with divine oil." 3a 

An indirect proof for the existence of this Sacrament 
in the first half of the second century is furnished by the 
fact that the practice of the laying-on of hands and the 
anointing of baptized persons was in vogue among the 
Gnostics, who must have gotten it from the Catholic 
Church. 34 

32 Cat. Myst., 3, cap. 3 (Migne, 33 Ad Autolyc., c. i, n. 12 

P. G., XXXIII, 1090). Cfr. J. (Migne, P. G., VI, 1042). 

Marquardt, S. Cyrillus Hierosoly- 34 Cfr. Dolger, Das Sakrament 

mitanus Baptismi, Chrismatis, Eu- der Firmung, pp. 4 sqq. 
charistiae Mysteriorum Interpret, 
Leipzig 1882. 


Speaking generally it may be said that " anointing and 
the imposition of hands in the Catholic Church did not 
originate towards the close of the second century, but can 
be traced by a well-established tradition back to the time 
of the Apostles." 35 

The argument from prescription becomes irrefutable in 
the light of the teaching and practice of the schismatic 
Greeks and the ancient sectaries, who, with the sole ex 
ception of the Nestorians, recognized Confirmation as a 
Sacrament. 36 

35 Op. cit., p. 8. The argument See also Bellarmine, De Confirm., 

from Tradition is fully developed c. 5 sqq. 

up to the twelfth century by Yi- 36 Cfr. Dolger, op. cit., pp. 9 

tasse in Migne s Theol. Cursns sqq., 42 sqq. 
Compl., Vol. XXI, pp. 556 sqq. 



As there is nothing dogmatically defined with regard to 
this phase of our subject, we must rely entirely on theo 
logical arguments. Catholic writers are at variance as to 
what constitutes the essential matter of Confirmation. 

i. THE MATERIA PROXIMA. The reason why 
we do not begin with an attempt to determine the 
inatcria rcmota of Confirmation is this: If it 
were true, as some contend, that the essential mat 
ter of this Sacrament consists in the imposition of 
hands, there would be no materia rcnwta. 

Concerning the materia proxima there are four 
different theories. 

a) Most of the older canonists and theolo 
gians 1 regard the impositio m annum (xp0 a ) 
as the sole matter of Confirmation. 

Their chief argument is that Holy Scripture 2 always 
describes Confirmation as a laying-on of hands, never 
as an unction (chrismatio) . However, Staerk, 3 basing his 
conclusions on 2 Cor. I, 21 sq., contends that the Apostolic 

i Notably Aureolus (Comment, in ~ Acts VIII, 14 sqq., XIX, i sqq. 

Sent., IV, dist. 79, qu. i), Isaac 3 Der Taufritus, p. 159, Freiburg 

Habert, Petavius, Sirmond (Migne, 1903. 
Theol. Curs. Compl, XXI, p. 769). 


formula of Confirmation ran something like this : " Chris- 
mate sancto, complemento Spiritus Sancti signatur seruus 
Christi." Dolger thinks that possibly " the Apostles con 
ferred Confirmation by that imposition of hands, and that 
the anointment with chrism, as the external sign, was in 
troduced at their behest only towards the close of the 
Apostolic age." 4 The assertion that Tertullian, Cyprian, 
and Jerome knew nothing of the chrisniatio, is rendered 
doubtful by the express testimony of so many other Patris 
tic writers. 

b) St. Thomas, Bellarmine, Gregory of Valen- 
tia, Estius, Maldonatus, Nepef ny, and a few other 
theologians contend that the anointing with 
chrism (chrismatio) is the sole matter of Con 

They base their argument on the Decretum pro Ar- 
menis, which says : " The second Sacrament is Con 
firmation, of which the matter is chrism, made of oil ... 
and balsam . . . blessed by the bishop." 5 This is also 
the teaching of the Roman Catechism : " That such [i. e. 
a mixture of oil and balsam] is the matter of this Sac 
rament, holy Church and her councils have always taught, 
and the same has been handed down to us by St. Denis 
and by many other Fathers of the gravest authority, par 
ticularly by Pope Fabian, who testifies that the Apostles 
received the composition of chrism from the Lord and 
transmitted it to us." 6 This explanation is, however, 

4 Das Sakrament der Firmung, p. 6 Cat. Rom., P. II, c. 3, n. 7: 
190. " Quod out em ea [scil. mixture, ex 

5 " Secundum sacramentum est oleo et balsamo] sit huius sacramenti 
confirmatio, cuius materia est chris- materia, cum S. Ecclesia et Concilia 
ma confectum ex oleo . . . et bal- perpetuo docuerunt, turn a S. Diony- 
samo . . . per episcopum benedicto." sio et compliirimis aliis gravissimis 
(Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 697). Patribus traditum est imprimisque a 


open to serious objections. The St. Denis who is quoted 
as a witness, is none other than the Pseudo-Areopagite, 
who was not a " disciple of the Apostles/ as the School 
men believed, but a Christian pupil of the famous neo- 
Platonist philosopher Proclus, who flourished in the latter 
part of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth century. 
The dictum attributed to Pope Fabian (236-250) is spuri 
ous. The Tridentine Council evaded the theological point 
here at issue and contented itself with defending the use 
of chrism against the attacks of the Protestant reformers. 
It declared : " If any one saith that they who ascribe any 
virtue to the sacred chrism of Confirmation offer an out 
rage to the Holy Ghost, let him be anathema." 7 This is 
not tantamount to a dogmatic definition that the sacred 
chrism is an essential element of Confirmation ; for the 
canon quoted would remain valid even if the anointment 
with sacred chrism were merely a symbolic ceremony in 
stead of a true sacramental rite. The chrismatio itself 
was most fully developed in the Orient, where the laying- 
on of hands gradually fell into entire desuetude, whereas 
the Latin Church continued to emphasize the importance 
of both rites. Professor Nepefny s contention 8 that the 
" ancient Greeks " never laid on hands in conferring the 
Sacrament of Confirmation, is disproved by the Egyp 
tian Church Ordinance, the newly discovered Testament 
of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 and the Arabic Canones 

Fabiano Pontifice, qui Apostolos ma sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 

chrismatis confectioncm a Domino 872). 

accepisse nobisque reliquisse testa- 8 Die Firmung, pp. 124 sqq., 

tus est." Passau 1869. 

7 Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, De Ed. Achelis, pp. 98 sq., Leipzig 

Confirm., can. 2: " Si quis dixerit, 1891. 

iniurios csse Spiritui Sancto "$os, qui 10 Testamentum Domini Nostri 

sacro confirmation s chrismati vir- lesu Christi, ed. Rahmani, pp. 129 

tutew aliquam tribuunt, anathe- sq., Mainz 1899. 


Hippolyti, 11 three documents which, according to Funk s 
exhaustive researches, 12 all grew out of the pseudo- 
Apostolic Constitutions. The Egyptian Church Ordi 
nance and the Testamentum Domini Nostri lesit Christi, 
both productions of the fifth century, speak of a two 
fold laying-on of hands, one with and the other with 
out the chrismatio. 13 

c) A third group of theologians, combining 
the two opinions just reviewed, hold that the im 
position of hands and anointment with chrism 
conjointly constitute the matter of Confirmation. 
This opinion has a solid basis in ecclesiastical 

Since, however, the Latin rite of Confirmation com 
prises two distinct impositions of the hands the exten 
sion of them (xei/oorona) over all the candidates with 
which the ceremony begins, and the individual laying-on of 
hands (xctpo&o-ta) which takes place in the act of anoint 
ing, most of the representatives of this group 14 regard 
the latter rite as the essential matter of Confirmation. 
The individual laying-on of hands, they say, and the 
anointing of the forehead with chrism, together consti 
tute but one rite. This opinion is confirmed by the prac 
tice of the Greek Church, which employs but one impositio 
manuum, namely, that which takes place simultaneously 
with the anointment. The Oriental practice was expressly 
approved by Benedict XIV in his Encyclical "Ex quo 

11 Ed. Haneberg, pp. 76 sq., Mtin- 13 Cfr. Dolger, Das Sakrament der 
chen 1870. Firmung, pp. 81 sqq. 

12 Das Testament unseres Herrn 1* Tournely is one of the few 
tind die verwandten Schriften, exceptions. 

Mainz 1901. 


primum" (March I, 1756). He says: " No one is per 
mitted to assert that the Greek Church has not the Sacra 
ment of Confirmation. For if any one would hold this 
opinion, he would be manifestly contradicted by the an 
cient Oriental discipline." 15 His declaration gains weight 
from the common consent of present-day Latin theologians 
that the extensio manuum is not essential to the Sacra 
ment, and from the decision of the Propaganda (1840) 
that Confirmation must not be repeated if that part of 
the ceremony has been accidentally omitted. 

d) According to Morinus, Tapper, and some 
others, either the imposition of hands or the 
anointing suffices to make the Sacrament valid. 

These writers exemplify their theory by reference to 
the Holy Eucharist, which, they say, may be validly re 
ceived under either species or under both. As no solid 
argument can be adduced in support of this view, we may 
disregard it. 

Practically, of course, the minister of Confir 
mation is bound to proceed according to the Pon 
tificate Romanum. As for the theoretical ques 
tion here at issue, it can be best decided by adopt 
ing the opinion that the imposition of hands and 
the anointment with chrism both appertain to the 
essential matter of the Sacrament. 

L5"Nemini fas est asserere in enim hanc opinionem tueretur, huic 
Ecclesia graeca non adesse sacra- manifesto obstaret vetus orientalis 
mentum confirmationis. Si quis disciplina." ( 51). 


The arguments of the first-mentioned group of authors 
establish the necessity of the impositio manuum on the 
basis of Sacred Scripture; those of the second, prove the 
indispensability of the anointment from the teaching of 
the Fathers and the practice of the ancient Church ; and 
as the Greek Church knows no other xpo#n a besides 
that which in the Latin Church takes place simultaneously 
with the anointing, it follows that the impositio manuum 
cum chrismatione coniuncta constitutes the essential mat 
ter of the Sacrament. This is the express teaching of 
Innocent III 16 and it is re-echoed in the profession of 
faith of the Greek Emperor Michael Palseologus, read 
before the Second Council of Lyons (i274). 17 In the 
light of this teaching we can easily understand why the 
Fathers often employed the terms confirmatio, unciio, and 
manus impositio synonymously, and that this diversity of 
usage argues no divergency in teaching. 18 

2. THE MATERIA REMOTA. If the anointing 
and the imposition of hands conjointly are the 
materia proximo, of Confirmation, the chrism 
(chrisma, wov) employed in the last-mentioned 
portion of the rite must manifestly be its materia 

a) Chrism is a mixture of olive oil (oleum olivarum) 
and balsam (balsamum). In the Greek Church it also 
contains an admixture of odoriferous herbs and a small 

is Decret., 1. I, tit. 15, c. i, 7: tnando renatos." (Denzinger-Bann- 

" Per frontis chrismationem manus wart, n. 465). 
impositio designatur." 18 Cfr. on the subject of these dif- 

17 " Aliud est sacr amentum con- ferent opinions Heinrich-Gutberlet, 

firmationis, quod per manuum im- Dogmatische Theologie, Vol. IX, 

positionem episcopi conferunt chris- 516, and Dolger, Das Sakrament 

der Firmung, pp. 93 sqq., 188 sqq. 


quantity of wine. The principal ingredient, of course, is 
the oil, which must be pure oil of olives. When the 
Armenians were censured by the Council of Tarsus 
(1177) for substituting oil of sesame, their only excuse 
was that poverty compelled them to deviate from the tra 
ditional practice. 19 

b) Must the chrism, in order to be valid matter 
for Confirmation, necessarily be mixed with bal 
sam, and consecrated by a bishop ? Theologians 
differ on these two points. 

a) The Thomists, with the majority, regard the admix 
ture of balsam as essential, for the reason that the Bible, 
the Fathers, and the Church in her official language call 
mere olive oil alone not chrisma (pvpov) but oleum 
(cAaiov). Many Scotists and a number of modern theo 
logians 20 contend that the balsam is a requisite of licit 
but not of valid administration. The use of balsam 
as an ingredient of the sacred chrism cannot be proved 
before the sixth century. 21 Earlier writers speak simply 
of oleum, which Pope Innocent I identifies with chrisma. 
Optatus of Mileve applies oleum to unconsecrated, and 
chrisma to consecrated oil, without an admixture of bal 
sam. Innocent III did not venture to declare Confirma 
tion administered with mere olive oil alone as invalid. 
These and other reasons lead Kriill 22 to conclude that the 
use of balsam originated in the sixth century, 23 and if this 
be true, the necessity of mixing it with the oil can only be 
de praecepto. 

19 " Ex paupertate huic dero- 20 Notably Vitasse, Oswald, and 

gamus traditioni." On the symbol!- Simar. 

cal meaning of the chrism see St. 21 Cfr. the Pseudo-Areopagite, De 

Thomas, Summa Theologica, 33., qu. EccL Hier., c. 4, 3, 4. 

72, art. 2; N. Gihr, Die hi. Sakra- 22 In Kraus, Realensyklop ddie der 

mente der kath. Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd christl. Altertumer, I, 211. 

cd., 49. 23 Cfr. Dolger, Das Sakrament der 

Firmung, pp. 96 sqq., 192 sq. 


/3) Equally undecided is the question whether the 
sacred chrism must be consecrated by a bishop. Pope 
Benedict XIV declared it " beyond controversy " that " in 
the Latin Church the Sacrament of Confirmation is ad 
ministered with sacred chrism or olive oil mixed with 
balsam, and blessed by a bishop. . . ." 24 Episcopal con 
secration of the chrism is regarded as essential by St. 
Thomas 25 and his school, by Suarez, 26 and the majority 
of modern theologians, on the ground that many Fathers 2r 
speak of the " blessed oil of anointment," and that popes 
and councils have prescribed that the oil used for Con 
firmation be previously consecrated by a bishop. 28 

Whether a priest may be the extraordinary minister 
of this blessing, and if so, under what conditions, is an 
other open question. Cajetan and Soto hold that the Pope 
may delegate a priest for this purpose. Eugene IV is 
said to have granted the privilege of consecrating the 
sacred chrism to the Latin missionaries in India. The 
deacon John, who lived in the sixth century, 29 holds 
that in case of necessity bishops can delegate their 
power in this matter to priests. 30 Whether or not these 
accounts are reliable, one thing is certain : according to 

24 Encycl. " Ex quo primum," d. 28 Cfr. Innocent Fs Ep. 25 ad 
i Mart. 1756, 52: "Quod itaque Decent., c. 3: " Presbyteris sive 
extra controversiam est, hoc dicatur : extra episcopum sive praesente epi- 
nimirum in Ecclesia latino con- scopo, quum baptisant, chrismate bap- 
firmationis sacramentum conferri ad- tizatos ungere licet, sed quod ab 
hibito sacro chrismate sive oleo episcopo fuerit consccratum, non 
olivarum balsamo admixto et ab tamen frontem ex eodem oleo si- 
episcopo benedicto ductoque signo gnare, quod solis debetur episcopis, 
crucis per sacramenti ministrum in quum tradunt Spiritum Paracle- 
fronte suscipientis, dum idem mi- turn." (V. supra, p. 283). 

nister formae verba pronuntiat." 29 Cfr. Migne, P. L., LIX, 403. 

25 Summa Th., 3&, qu. 72, art. 3. so Cfr. Loffler, " Die Weihe der hi. 
20 De Confirm., disp. 33, sect. 2. Oele," in the Katholik, Mainz 1885, 
27 E. g., SS. Basil, Cyril of Jeru- II, pp. 236 sqq. 

salem, and Leo the Great. 


all the existing rituals, the sacred chrism may be conse 
crated by bishops only. In the Orient the privilege is 
reserved to the Patriarch or Katholikos. Hence we may 
reasonably conclude that chrism consecrated by a bishop 
is an indispensable requisite for the validity of Confirma 
tion. Oswald treats the matter altogether too lightly 
when he says : " The previous blessing of the elements 
is probably a non-essential matter in all the Sacra 
ments." 31 True, Baptism is valid even if the water is not 
blessed. But, as Schell remarks, " In the case of Confir 
mation there is greater need that the element be blessed 
than in the case of Baptism, because Confirmation 
truly and properly confers the Holy Ghost. . . . This 
explains the exalted rites employed in consecrating the 
sacred chrism, the reverence with which it is handled, 
and the express declaration of the Tridentine Council, 
Sess. VII, De Confirm., can. 2. All this presupposes 
a special dignity and power, which the Church at 
tributes to the sacred chrism in virtue of the blessing 
bestowed upon it. It is proper, too, that the element 
used in the anointing be blessed, since the hands of the 
confirming minister must be consecrated, which is not the 
case in Baptism." 32 

TION. Because of the uncertainty enveloping the 
matter of Confirmation, the form, too, is in dis 

a) Speaking in the abstract, and taking the rite 
as it is customary to-day, the form may be, either 

31 Die dogmatische Lehre -von den Paderborn 1892. Cfr. Dolger, Das 
M. Sakramenten, Vol. I, sth ed., p. Sakrament der Firmung, pp. 101 
276, Minister 1894. sqq., 193 sqq. 

32 Dogwatik, Vol. Ill, p. 496, 


) The prayer "Omnipotens sent pit erne Dens 
pronounced by the bishop at the general imposi 
tion of hands; or 

0) The words spoken by him when he anoints 
the forehead of each candidate with chrism, viz.: 
" I sign thee with the sign of the cross and con 
firm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name 
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 

Probably since the First Council of Constan 
tinople (38i), 33 but surely since the Trullan 
Council of 6Q2, 34 the Eastern Church has em 
ployed this formula: "The sign [or seal] of the 
gift of the Holy Ghost/ 35 

Though it is customary in some dioceses to lock the 
door after the general imposition of hands, it may be 
assumed with reasonable certainty that the prayer ac 
companying that ceremony does not enter into the es 
sential form of the Sacrament, since this preliminary 
imposition itself does not constitute part of the essen 
tial matter. Consequently the true form must be sought 
in the words pronounced at the anointing. This is, in 
fact, the teaching of the Council of Florence. 36 The 
present formula, " I sign thee with the sign of the cross," 
etc., is no older than the twelfth century. 37 Before 

33 Can. 7. 37 Alexander of Hales (S. Th., 

34 Can. 94. IV, qu. 9, m. i) and Albertus Mag- 
85 " Signaculum doni Spiritus nus (Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 

Sancti ^(ppayls dupeas irvfVfjLaTOS 7, art. 2) still give different formu- 

ayiov-" las, while St. Thomas (S. Th., 33, 

36 "Forma autem est: Signo te qu. 72, art. 4) and St. Bonaventure 

signo crucis, etc." (Denzinger- know but one, i. e. the one still in 

Bannwart, n. 697). use. 


that time others were in use. According to Amalarius of 
Metz (d. about 857), the Latin Church had no uniform 
formula of Confirmation in the ninth century. The same 
may be said of the Oriental churches, with the sole ex 
ception of the Greek, which has employed its present 
formula ever since the sixth century. 38 

b) Which particular words constitute the substance of 
the formula is a purely theoretical question that can easily 
be decided if we admit the Greek formula to be essen 
tially equivalent to the longer Latin one, and bear in mind 
what was said in the first part of this treatise about the 
specific determination of matter and form for all the Sac 
raments by Jesus Christ. 39 Manifestly the formula of 
Confirmation must express two concepts, viz. : ( i ) the act 
of signing or sealing (signo te <j</>/oayts), and (2) the 
grace of the Holy Ghost (confirmo te Swpeas Trvev/xaros 
ayi ov). Neither the invocation of the most holy Trinity 
nor the words signo crucis and chrismate salutis are 
essential. 40 So far as we know, all the formulas ever in 
use embodied these two leading ideas, at least implicitly. 41 

The blow on the cheek (alapa) did not become custom 
ary until the twelfth century. It was apparently devised 
in imitation of the blow by which knighthood was con 
ferred in the Middle Ages, to serve as a symbolic exhorta- 

38 A collection of Confirmation gustine, Tract, in loa., 118, n. 5 

formulas may be found in Martene, (Migne, P. L., XXXIII, 1950). 

De Ant. Eccl. Ritib., 1. I, c. 2, art. 41 On the subject of the matter 

4; the Coptic, Syriac, and Armenian and form of Confirmation cfr. Mer- 

rites are described by Denzinger, lin, S. J., Traite Historique et Dog- 

Rit. Orient., I, 49 sqq., 209, 220 matique sur les Paroles ou les 

sqq., Wiirzburg 1863. Formes des Sept Sacrements, ch. 7-8, 

30 V. supra, pp. 107 sqq. Paris 1844 (uncritical); Chr. Pesch, 

40 Making the sign of the cross on Praelect. Dogmat., Vol. VI, 3rd ed., 

the forehead of the recipient is part pp. ^,234 sqq. ; Dolger, Das Sakra- 

of the materia of the Sacrament, ment der Firmung, pp. 199 sqq. 
and probably essential. Cfr. St. Au- 


tion to the recipient to follow the example of Christ in 
suffering patiently 42 and enduring contumely for His 
sake. 43 

42 Cfr. Mark XIV, 65; John XIX, cheek is a sign of endearment and 
3. that it was gradually substituted for 

43 Acts V, 41. Cfr. N. Gihr, op. the "kiss of peace" customary in 
cit.. Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 360 sqq. olden times. (Op. cit., p. 155). 
Dolger thinks that the blow on the 



Confirmation by its very name signifies the con 
summation of baptismal grace. The effect it pro 
duces is twofold : It increases sanctifying grace 
and imprints the sacramental character. 

Since Confirmation perfects the grace of Bap 
tism, it must be received in the state of sanctify 
ing grace. Hence Confirmation is a Sacrament 
of the living; it does not produce the state of 
grace but merely increases it (augmentum gratiae 
sanctificantiSj iustificatio secunda). 

The Council of Florence defines : " By Confirmation 
we receive an increase of grace and are strengthened in 
the faith." x This is in conformity with the Patristic 
teaching that baptized persons become full-fledged Chris 
tians (pleni Christiani) through Confirmation; not as if 
Baptism produced only " half-Christians " (semichristi- 
ani), as Calvin mockingly says, but as by growth children 
develop into complete and full-grown men. 

b) The specific grace of Confirmation (gratia 
sacrament alis) consists in the " power of the Holy 

i Decretum pro Armenis: "Per et roboramur in fide." (Denzinger- 
confirmationem augemur in gratia Bannwart, n. 695). 



Ghost," by which the recipient is enabled to be 
lieve firmly and to profess the faith courageously. 

" The effect of this Sacrament," says the Decretum pro 
Armenis, " is that in it is given the Holy Ghost for 
strengthening, as He was given to the Apostles on the 
day of Pentecost, namely that the Christian may boldly 
profess the name of Christ." This was indeed the effect 
produced by the descent of the Paraclete, as* our Lord 
Himself had foretold and promised. Acts I, 8 : " You 
shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon 
you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, . . . 
even to the utmost part of the earth." 3 Though the 
Apostles received this power without the Sacrament, the 
faithful generally can obtain it only through Confirmation. 

Confirmation imparts the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, 
particularly fortitude, which in extreme cases enables the 
Christian soldier to lay down his life for the faith. 4 
As Doctor Schell aptly says : " Confirmation confers 
and is intended to effect the possession and use of the 
supernatural state of grace, the courageous practice of 
faith, hope, and charity through wisdom, understanding, 
counsel and strength, knowledge, piety, and the fear of 
God. The ecclesiastical name for all these gifts is power, 
power to begin as well as to resist, to break down in 
ordinate self-love, thus enabling man with a free spirit 

a Ibid. : " Effectus autem huius TTVCV /iaros) in vos, et eritis mihi 

sacramenti est, quia in eo datur testes (judpri pes) in Jerusalem . . . 

Spiritus Sanctus ad robur, sicut usque in ultimum terrae." 

datus est Apostolis in die Pente- 4 Cfr. St. Ambrose, De Myst., c. 

costes, ut vid. Christianus audacter 7, n. 42: " Unde repete quia ac- 

Christi confiteatur nomen." (Den- ccpisti signaculum spirituale, spiri- 

zinger-Bannwart, n. 697). turn sapicntiae et intellectus, spiritum 

3 Acts I, 8: " Accipietis virtutem concilii et virtutis, spiritum cognitio- 

supervenientis Spiritus Sancti nis atque pietatis, spiritum sanctum 

(8vva.fJ.iv eir\66vTOS rov aylov timoris: et scrva quod accepisti." 


to fear God alone, and to serve Him, proof against sen 
sual pleasure and human respect." 5 

To effect this sublime purpose, Confirmation bestows a 
right to all those actual graces which are necessary to 
enable a man to fight for Christ and to defeat the enemies 
of his salvation. 6 

In the Apostolic Church, Confirmation often bestowed 
those extraordinary gifts (gratiae gratis datae) known as 
charismata, e. g. speaking in divers tongues, prophesying 
future events, discerning good spirits from evil, etc. 7 The 
existence of these gifts may be traced in the writings of 
the sub- Apostolic Fathers, especially St. Ignatius of Anti- 
och, St. Polycarp, St. Justin Martyr, and St. Irenaeus. 
The charismata had ceased in the time of St. Chrysos- 
torn, for reasons which St. Augustine indicates as follows : 
" Who expects in these days that those on whom hands 
are laid in order that they may receive the Holy Ghost, 
should forthwith begin to speak with tongues? . . . He 
[the Holy Ghost] was given in former days to be the 
credentials of a rudimentary faith, and for the extension 
of the first beginnings of the Church." 8 

tism, Confirmation imprints an indelible mark 
or character on the soul, and therefore cannot 
be repeated. 

Theologians have not been able to agree on the specu 
lative question how this character differs from the one 

5 Dogmatik, Vol. Ill, p. 507. tat, ut ii quibus manus ad accipien- 

6 On the relation between sanc : dum Spiritum Sanctum imponititr, 
tifying grace and sacramental grace repente incipiant linguis loqui? . . . 
in general, v. supra, pp. 70 sqq. Antea dabatur ad commendationem 

7 Cfr. i Cor. XII, i sqq. rudis fidei et Ecclesiae primordia 

8 De Bapt. contr. Donat., Ill, 16, dilatanda." 
21 : " Quis enim hoc nunc e.rspec- 


imprinted by Baptism. Some, laying special emphasis on 
the fact that Confirmation is " the consummation of Bap 
tism," argue that the sacramental character bestowed by 
the one is simply a more perfect development of that im 
printed by the other. This opinion is, however, unaccept 
able because it fails to make sufficient allowance for the in 
dependent status of Baptism and for the fact that each 
Sacrament has its own specific object. The character im 
printed by Baptism can undoubtedly exist by itself alone 
and has no intrinsic need of being complemented by any 
other. Moreover, its main function is specifically differ 
ent from that of the character of Confirmation. The one 
effects spiritual regeneration, while the other causes spirit 
ual growth. Consequently there is a real distinction be 
tween the two. This can be made still clearer by apply 
ing to both the notion of the fourfold signum, explained 
above. 9 Thus, to mention but one, Confirmation qua sig- 
num configurativum marks the recipient as a sol 
dier of Christ, whereas Baptism designates him merely as 
a subject. There is between the two a distinction as real 
as that between a soldier s uniform and his coat-of-arms. 10 

o V. supra, pp. 89 sqq. of the present Section consult Hein- 

10 Cfr. Suarez, De Confirm., disp. rich-Gut berlet, Dogmatische TJieo- 
34, sect. i. On the whole subject logie, Vol. IX, 520. 



Confirmation is not necessary as a means of 
salvation, and the precept to receive this Sacra 
ment does not oblige under penalty of mortal sin. 
Nevertheless, the fact that Confirmation was in 
stituted by Christ is sufficient proof that it must 
not be lightly neglected. 

MEANS OF SALVATION. If Confirmation were 
necessary for salvation necessitate medii, like Bap 
tism, an unconfirmed person dying in the state of 
baptismal innocence could not be saved, which is 
contrary to the teaching of Trent 1 and to the prac 
tice of the Church. 

Unconfirmed adults in danger of death are not given 
the Sacrament of Confirmation, but that of Extreme 
Unction, for the simple reason that Confirmation was 
instituted for the battle of life, not for the death strug 
gle. This explains why a dying Christian who has never 
been confirmed, is not required to have a desire (votum 
sacrament*) for Confirmation, a sure proof that the 
Church does not regard Confirmation as a necessary means 
of salvation. 

1 Sess. V, can. 5 (quoted supra, p. 232). 


PRAECEPTI. The fact that this Sacrament was in 
stituted by the Saviour as a means of grace for 
the saving of souls proves that all men are obliged 
to receive it, if they are able. 

If Confirmation were merely useful but not necessary, 
necessitate praecepti, why did Christ institute it as the 
complement and consummation of Baptism for all men? 
In the early days the faithful were more deeply convinced 
of the necessity of receiving this Sacrament than many are 
to-day. Confirmation used to be administered to children 
immediately after Baptism, as is still the practice among 
the Greeks, and numerous conciliary decrees and papal de 
cretals insisted on the obligation of receiving it. Thus 
the Council of Laodicfcea (370) ordained : " It behooves 
those who are illuminated, to be anointed after Baptism 
with the supercelestial chrism, and to be made partakers 
of Christ." 2 

As to the nature of the obligation, theologians are di 
vided. Some 3 regard neglect to receive Confirmation, 
provided there be no positive contempt, as scarcely 
even a venial sin. Others 4 take a more rigorous view. 
St. Peter Damian (d. 1075) insists that the obligation to 
receive this Sacrament is a serious one. 5 Benedict XIV 
teaches that it binds under pain of grievous sin. G Clement 

2 Can. 48: " Oportet eos, qui il- Sent., IV, dist. 7, qu. 2) and Tour- 
luminantur, post baptisma inungi su- nely. 

percoelesti chrismate et esse Christi 5 De Eccl. Dedic. Serm., i, c. 2: 

participes." " Decretales paginae et S. Patrum 

3 Billuart, Chr. Pesch, Gihr, etc., instituta decernunt non esse differ- 
and, among the moralists, Laymann, endam post baptismum sacramenti 
Lehmkuhl, et al. They base their huius virtutem, ne nos inermes in- 
teaching on St. Thomas, Summa veniat fraudulentus Hie contortor, a 
Theol., 33, qu. 72, art. i, ad 3; quo nemo unqttam nocendi inducias 
art. 8, ad 4. extorsit." 

* E. g., Scotus (Comment, in e Quoted by St. Alphonsus in his 


XIV, in 1774, approved a decree of the S. Congregation 
of the Propaganda to the effect that " this Sacrament 
cannot be refused or neglected without incurring the guilt 
of mortal sin, if there be an opportune occasion of receiv 
ing it." 7 These utterances may not constitute a positive 
ecclesiastical precept, binding under pain of mortal sin ; 
yet it is perhaps not too much to say that Confirmation is 
indirectly necessary for salvation, and there is a grave 
obligation to receive it, when possible. Simar justly ob 
serves : " The divine institution of this Sacrament is 
proof sufficient that God wills every member of the 
Church to receive it if he possibly can (praeceptuni impli- 
citum). The love that a Christian must have for his own 
soul makes it appear a grave duty not to neglect so effi 
cacious a means of grace (necessitas medil indirecta) " 8 
To-day when the faith is threatened by so many serious 
dangers, its courageous profession against growing un 
belief becomes a sacred duty, and the faithful have 
greater need perhaps than ever, since the days of the 
martyrs, of the grace imparted by the Sacrament of 
Confirmation. 9 

Theologia Moralis, 1. VI, n. 182: dieses Sakramentes ist der gottliche 
" Monendi sunt ab Ordinariis loco- Wille, dass die Glieder der Kirche 
rum eos gravis peccati reatu teneri, dasselbe womoglich empfangen sol- 
si (quum possunt) ad confirma- len, genugend kundgetan (praecep- 
tionem accedere renuunt ac negli- turn implicitum) ; auch die christ- 
gunt." liche Selbstliebe lasst es als eine 

^ " Hoc sacramentum sine gravis schvierwiegende Pflicht erscheincn, 

peccati reatu respui non potest ac dass man nicht ohne zwingcnde 

negligi, quum illud suscipiendi op- Grilnde die Erlangung eines so wirk- 

portuna adest occasio." samen Gnadenmittcls versaume 

8 Lehrbuch der Dogmatik, Vol. I, (necessitas medii indirecta)" 

4th ed., p. 827, Freiburg 1899: " Je- Q Cfr. Dolger, Das Sakrament der 

doch schon durch die Einsetsung Firmung, pp. 179 sqq. 



The ordinary ministers of the Sacrament of 
Confirmation are the bishops. In extraordinary 
cases, simple priests can administer the Sac 
rament, though only with special powers from the 
Pope. We shall demonstrate this in two theses. 

Thesis I: The ordinary ministers of Confirmation 
are the bishops. 

This is de fide. 

Proof. The schismatic Greeks, since Photius, 
maintain that simple priests are the ordinary min 
isters of Confirmation ; but the Tridentine Coun 
cil expressly condemns this proposition. 1 

a) Sacred Scripture records no instance where the 
Sacrament of Confirmation was conferred by any one but 
an Apostle. 

St. Peter and St. John faced the dangers of a religious 
persecution to confirm the converts baptized by Philip the 
deacon in Samaria. At Ephesus, St. Paul imposed his 
hands on the twelve disciples of John after they had been 

l Cone. Trident., Sess VII, De pum, sed quemvis simplicem sacer- 

Confirm., can. 3: " Si quis dixerit, dotem, anathema sit." (Denzinger- 

sanctae confirmations ordinarium Bannwart, n. 873). 
ntinistrum non esse solum episco- 



baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 2 Evidently, then, 
the administration of Confirmation was an Apostolic, and 
therefore episcopal, prerogative. 

Tradition always so regarded it, as we have 
previously shown. 3 

b) A conclusive argument may be drawn from the papal 
instruction to Bishop Decentius of Eugubium (d. 417), 
in which Innocent the First distinctly says that the 
administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation is 
an episcopal prerogative. 4 A remarkable example is fur 
nished by Pope St. Gregory the Great (d. 604). When 
he learned that the priests of Sardinia administered Confir 
mation as though it were a right attached to the sacerdotal 
office, Gregory, in a letter to the Bishop of Cagliari, con 
demned and forbade the practice. 5 This decision created 
wide-spread dissatisfaction, and Gregory subsequently 
wrote another letter in which, while recalling " the ancient 
discipline of the Church " in support of his previous de 
cree, he benevolently acceded to the wishes of the Sardin 
ian people and allowed the clergy to continue to give Con 
firmation by special permission of the Holy See. 6 

2 Cfr. Acts VIII, 14 sqq. ; Acts Petrutn et loannem esse directos, qui 
XIX, i sqq. iam baptizatis traderent Spiritum 

3 V. supra, pp. 282 sqq. Cfr. Sanctum/ (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 
Dolger, Das Sakratnent der Firmung, 98). 

pp. 24 sqq., 119 sqq., 201 sqq. 5 Epist., 1. IV, ep. 9: " Presby- 

4 " De consignandis vero infan- teri baptisatos infantes signare sacro 
tibus manifest urn est, non ab alio in frontibus chrismate non praesu- 
guam ab episcopo fieri licere; nam mant, sed presbyteri baptisatos un- 
presbyteri, licet secundi sint sacer- gant in pectore, ut episcopi post- 
dotes, pontificatus tamen apicem modum ungere debeant in fronte." 
non habent. Hoc autem pontificium (Migne, P. L., LXXVII, 677). 
solis deberi episcopis, ut vel con- o Cfr. St. Gregory the Great s 
signent vel Paracletum Spiritum tra- Ep., 1. IV, ep. 26 ad lanuarium: 
dant, non solum consuetudo ecclesi- " Pervenit quoque ad nos, quosdam 
astica demonstrat, verum et ilia lectio scandalizatos fuisse, quod presbyteros 
Actuum Apostolorum, quae asserit chrismate tangere in fronte eos, qui 


c) The ordinary power of administering Confirmation 
is limited to the bishops, for two reasons. First, being a 
Sacrament of lesser importance, Confirmation demands no 
such universal and general prerogatives as Baptism, which 
is absolutely necessary to all men for salvation. Sec 
ondly, being the Sacrament of " the plenitude of the 
Spirit," Confirmation requires an administrator who has 
himself received full power and consecration. To these 
considerations St. Thomas Aquinas adds a third. " In 
every work," he says, " the final completion is reserved 
to the supreme act or power; thus the preparation of 
the matter belongs to the lower craftsman, the higher 
gives the form, but the highest of all is he to whom 
pertains the use, which is the end of things made by art. 
Thus also the letter which is written by the clerk is signed 
by his employer. Now the faithful of Christ are a divine 
work, . . . and this Sacrament of Confirmation is, as it 
were, the final completion of the Sacrament of Baptism ; 
in the sense that by Baptism a man is built up into a 
spiritual dwelling, and is written like a spiritual letter; 
whereas by the Sacrament of Confirmation, like a house 
already built, he is consecrated as a temple of the Holy 
Ghost, and as a letter already written, is signed with the 
sign of the cross. Therefore the conferring of this Sac 
rament is reserved to the bishops, who possess the supreme 
power in the Church. . . ." 7 

The famous Jesuit theologian, Francisco Suarez, com 
pares the bishops to the generals of an army, and says that 
in this capacity they have the sole right to enlist new re 
cruits for Christ. Only when the general (. e. the 

baptisati sunt, prohibuimus. Et nos in frontibus baptisatos chrismatt 

quidem secundum veteran Ecclesiae t anger e debeant, concedimus." 

nostrae usum fecimus; sed si omnino (Migne, /. c., 696). 

hoc de re aliqui contristantur, ubi 7 Snnima TheoL, 33, qu. 72, art. 

episcopi desunt, ut presbytcri etiam u. 


bishop) is prevented, may the commander-in-chief (i. e. 
the Pope) delegate simple officers (i. e. priests) with the 
power of conscription. 8 

Does the power of administering Confirmation belong 
to the bishops by divine or merely by ecclesiastical right ? 
This question has never been officially decided and is in 
debate among theologians. Trombelli tries to show that 
the episcopal prerogative of Confirmation rests entirely 
on the Canon Law. 9 But despite the erudition which this 
learned writer brings to bear on the subject, his argument 
is by no means conclusive. The Fathers and early coun 
cils were plainly convinced that the episcopal prerogative 
is based on a divine ordinance, and the Council of Trent 
raised the proposition that bishops only are the ordinary 
ministers of Confirmation, to the rank of a dogma, 
which it would hardly have done if the canonical precept 
were not founded on a divine command. 

Thesis II : In extraordinary cases simple priests can 
administer Confirmation, but only with special powers 
granted by the Pope. 

This proposition may be technically qualified 
as "sententia certa." 

Proof. Hugh of St. Victor, 10 Durandus, 11 
.and other Scholastic theologians deny the right of 
the Supreme Pontiff to grant the special power re 
ferred to ; but there is now no longer any reason 
to doubt it. Thomists, Scotists, Bellarmine, 12 
Suarez, 13 and De Lugo, 14 all regard Confirmation 

8 De Confirm., disp. 36, sect. i. n Comment, in Sent., IV, dist. 

o De Sacram., dissert. 10, Bologna 7, qu. 3 sq. 
1773. 12 De Confirm., c. 12. 

10 De Sacram., II, 7, 2. 13 De Confirm., disp. 36, sect. 2. 

liResp. Mor., I, dub. 6. 


administered by simple priests with papal author 
ity as valid. 

Our thesis cannot be demonstrated directly 
from Sacred Scripture, and we therefore have to 
rely on Tradition. 

a) In the Greek Church simple priests have ad 
ministered Confirmation since the early days. 

Though St. Chrysostom regards Confirmation as a " pre 
rogative 15 of the coryphaei " (i. e. bishops), he is aware 
of its administration by ordinary priests. Long before 
the time of Photius, Confirmation by simple priests had 
been customary in the East, and the Western Church 
accepted it as valid. The matter came up for debate in 
the councils of Lyons (1274) and Florence (1439). At 
Florence the Oriental practice was vigorously defended 
by the Bishop of Mytilene. Pope Eugene IV declared in 
his famous Decretum pro Armenis: " However, we read 
that sometimes, by a dispensation granted by the Apos 
tolic See for some reasonable and urgent cause, a simple 
priest administered this Sacrament with chrism conse 
crated by a bishop." 16 This declaration did not, it is 
true, justify the Oriental practice ; but it showed that the 
Holy See was aware of its existence and tolerated it. 
Benedict XIV expressly acknowledged its validity " be 
cause of at least a tacit privilege conceded by the Apos 
tolic See." 17 This rule still governs the practice of 

15 Supov f&iperov. V. supra, p. 17 De Syn. Dioec,, VII, 9, 3: 

285. " In aliis loots, in quibus chris- 

16 " Legitur tamen aliquando per matio data a sacerdotibus graecis 

Apostolicae Sedis dispensationem ex non est a Sede Apostolica expresse 

rationabili et ur genie admodum causa improbata, ea pro valida est habenda 

simplicem sacerdotem chrismate per ob taciturn saltern privilegium a Sede 

episcopum confecto hoc admini- Apostolica illis concession, cuius qui- 

strasse confirmationis sacramentum." dem privilegii praesumptionem indu- 

(Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 697). cit ipsamet conniventia et tolerantia 


the Roman Church. Confirmation given by schismatic 
Greek priests is never repeated except in countries or re 
gions from which the Holy See has expressly withdrawn 
the privilege, e. g. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy, Sardinia, Sic 
ily, Corsica, and the Maronite districts about the Leb 
anon. 18 

b) In the Latin Church Confirmation, as a rule, 
has always been administered by bishops, and only 
in exceptional cases by priests. 

This practice, which is far more in conformity with 
the dogmatic teaching defined at Trent, gained the 
upper hand in the West after the thirteenth century, when 
Baptism and Confirmation gradually became separated by 
constantly lengthening intervals of time. The adminis 
tration of Confirmation by priests was and is compara 
tively rare, but cases have occurred in every century since 
the time of Gregory the Great, though always with express 
papal authorization and with chrism consecrated by bish 
ops. Since the Council of Trent the Holy See has at 
various times granted the right to administer Con 
firmation to Jesuit missionaries, to the Custodian of the 
Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, the Provost of St. Hedwig s 
Church in Berlin, and other priests. 18 

c) It is not easy to justify this exceptional prac 
tice in view of the fact that the validity of Confir 
mation has nothing to do with the power of juris 
diction, but depends entirely on the character of 

Romanorum Pontificum, qui prae- 18 Cfr. Dolger, Das Sakrament der 

dictum morem Graecorum scienler Firmung, pp. 123 sqq., 203 sqq. 
non contradixerwnt nee unquam il- 19 Cfr. Billuart, De Confirm., art. 

lum damnarunt" 7, i; Benedict XIV, De Syn. 

Dwec., VII, 7. 


A deacon, for instance, could not validly administer this 
Sacrament even with papal permission, whilst, on the 
other hand, a heretical, schismatic, suspended, or excom 
municated bishop can do so even against the express com 
mand of the Pope. How, then, is it possible for a simple 
priest to confirm validly, if the papal permit does not 
supply the lack of episcopal consecration? 

Various attempts have been made to overcome this 

Some theologians have assumed that the papal dele 
gation is not a mere extrinsic permission but implies an 
intrinsic perfectioning of the character of ordination by 
which the delegated priest receives the episcopal char 
acter. 20 Others hold with Suarez 21 that the papal au 
thorization merely gives to the delegated priest a higher 
extrinsic dignity which, together with his sacerdotal char 
acter, suffices to enable him to administer the Sacrament 
validly. Both hypotheses are unsatisfactory. A simpler 
and more effective solution is that devised by Gregory of 
Valentia. 22 It was the will of Christ, he says, that both 
bishops and priests should be empowered to administer 
Confirmation, the former as ordinary ministers of the Sac 
rament by virtue of the episcopal consecration, the latter 
as its extraordinary ministers by virtue of the priesthood, 
leaving it to the Pope to determine the manner of exercis 
ing this latent power. 23 

20Cfr. Der Katholik, Mainz are set forth by Benedict XIV, De 

1894, I, pp. 271 sqq. Syn. Dioec., VII, 8. On the whole 

21 De Confirm., disp. 36, sect. 2. subject of this Chapter see Chr. 

22 De Confirm., disp. 5, qu. 2, Pesch, Praelect. Dogmat., Vol. VI, 
punct. i. 3rd ed., pp. 243 sqq.; Dolger, Das 

23 Cfr. Bellarmine, De Confirm., Sakrament der Firmung, pp. 206 
c. 12. The reasons why a merely sqq. 

episcopal delegation is insufficient, 



To be validly confirmed one must have been 
previously baptized; to receive the Sacrament 
worthily, one must be in the state of grace and, 
if an adult, have at least a rudimentary knowl 
edge of the faith. 

TIZED. Since the right to receive the other Sac 
raments is conferred neither by the Baptism of 
desire nor by the Baptism of blood, Baptism by 
water is a necessary requisite of valid Confirma 
tion. Cornelius, the centurion, who received the 
Holy Ghost before he was baptized, received only 
the grace of Confirmation, not the Sacrament, nor 
the character which it imprints. According to 
indications contained in the Acts of the Apostles, 
and the constant teaching and practice of the 
Church, every baptized person, whether male or 
female, young or old, well or ill, is a fit subject for 
Confirmation. 1 

l As to whether and in how far the ler, Pastoral-Psychiatric, p. 163, 
insane or feeble-minded are fit sub- Freiburg 1898. 
jects for Confirmation, see J. Famil- 



Regarding children, in particular, it is just as certain 
that they can be validly confirmed as that they can 
be validly baptized. The Greek Church still adheres to 
the ancient practice of confirming infants immediately 
after Baptism. The Latin Church seems to have pretty 
generally followed the same rule up to the thirteenth cen 
tury. At the present time the only difference between 
the two is that while in the Greek Church it is the priests 
who confirm, in the Latin Church this Sacrament is ad 
ministered by the bishops. A Council held at Cologne, 
A. D. 1280, decreed that Confirmation should be deferred 
until the years of discretion. The Roman Catechism 
declares that the administration of this Sacrament is 
inexpedient until children have attained the use of rea 
son (which is between the ages of seven and twelve), 
because " Confirmation has not been instituted as neces 
sary to salvation, but that by virtue thereof we might be 
found very well armed and prepared, when called upon 
to fight for the faith of Christ." 2 Nevertheless, the 
Church has never made a law, nor is there any explicit 
custom sanctioned by antiquity, which forbids the con 
firming of infants. On the contrary, bishops are free 
to confirm little children, if they so please, as is evi 
dent from the Pontificate Romanurn, which says : " In 
fants should be held by their sponsors on the right arm 
before the bishop who wishes to confirm them." 3 Bish 
ops are generally guided in this matter by the custom of 
the country. 

CONFIRMED BEFORE. It is of faith 4 that Con- 

2 Cat. Rom., P. II, c. 3, n. 18. 4 Cfr. Cone. Trident., Sess. VII, 

3 " Infantes per patrinos ante De Sacram., can. 9. 

pontificem confirmare volentem tc- 

11 can I ur in brae hits de.rtris." 


formation imprints an indelible mark (character 
indelebilis) on the soul, and therefore can not be 
repeated. To reconfirm a person would be as 
great a crime as to rebaptize him. 

St. Cyprian s view that Confirmation administered by 
a heretical minister is invalid, and may therefore be re 
peated, was based on his erroneous belief (later con 
demned by the Church in connection with the Donatist 
schism) that a Sacrament, in order to be valid, must be 
administered by one who is a true believer and in the 
state of sanctifying grace. The attitude of Pope Stephen 
the First is uncertain. Though he condemned rebaptism, 
he seems to have countenanced reconfirmation. 5 Aside 
from a few such uncertain cases, the Church can be 
shown to have constantly held the belief that Con 
firmation by a heretical minister is valid. The " laying- 
on of hands " of which we read in the writings of the 
Fathers and the acts of councils in connection with the 
return of heretics to the Church, was not the Sacrament 
of Confirmation, but something we should now call a 
" sacramental " a ceremony of reconciliation, which 
was sometimes accompanied by an anointment. " The 
laying-on of hands in reconciliation," says St. Augustine, 
" is not, like Baptism, incapable of repetition ; for what 
is it more than a prayer offered over a man?" 6 In 
order to avoid misunderstanding when reading the an 
cient Fathers and conciliary decrees, it is necessary in each 
instance to ascertain from the context what is meant by 

5 On this controversy cfr. Dolger, 6 De Bapt. contr. Donat., Ill, 16: 

Das Sakrament der Firmung, pp. " Manus impositio (.sell, reconcilia- 

130 sqq. ; B. Poschmann, Die Sicht- toria) non sicut baptismus repeti 

barkeit der Kirche nach der Lehre non potest ; quid est enim aliud nisi 

des hi. Cyprian, pp. 118 sqq., Pader- oratio super hominem? " (Migne, 

born 1908. P. L., XLIII, 149). 


the phrase " laying-on of hands." There was a threefold 
laying-on of hands in the primitive Church, to wit : ( i ) 
the manus impositio confirmatoria, .i. e. Confirmation, 
which is a true Sacrament; (2) the manus impositio 
ordinatoria, i. e. ordination, which is also a true Sacra 
ment; and (3) the manus impositio reconciliatoria, i. e. 
the ceremony of readmitting heretics to the Church, which 
was no Sacrament at all, but merely what is now called 
a sacramental. 7 

PARED. To be duly prepared for Confirmation, 
the candidate must first of all be in the state of 
sanctifying grace, because Confirmation is a Sac 
rament of the living. 8 

In addition there is required a knowledge of the rudi 
ments of the faith, more particularly of the Apostles 
Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Seven Sacra 
ments, especially of the Church s teaching in regard 
to Confirmation itself. To make sure that the would- 
be recipients possess this knowledge, the bishop usu 
ally subjects them to an examination. The Church also 
insists on the previous reception of the Sacrament of Pen 
ance and admonishes the candidates for Confirmation to 
prepare themselves for the reception of the Holy Ghost by 
pious prayer and an ardent desire, 9 and, if possible, to 
receive the Sacrament fasting. 10 

READINGS : St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, 3a, qu. 72, art. i- 
12. Billuart, De Confirmation* (ed. Lequette, Vol. VI, pp. 345 

7 Cfr. A. J. Binterim, Die vorziig- 8 V> supra, pp. 300 sqq. 

lichsten Denkwiirdigkeiten der o Cfr. Acts I, 14. 

christ-katholischen Kirche, V, 2, pp. 10 Cfr. Cat. Rom., P. II, c. 3, n. 

299 sqq., 453 sqq., Mainz 1836. 18. 


sqq.). Bellarmine, De Sacramento Confirmationis, c. 1-27 (ed. 
Fevre, Vol. Ill, pp. 588 sqq., Paris 1870). 

Other literature see under Baptism, p. 275, supra. 

Monographs: I. A. Orsi, O.Pr., De Chrismate Confirmatory, 
Rome 1733; M. Gerbert, O.S.B., De Sacramentis, Praesertim 
Confirmatione, S. Blasien 1764; Jos. Bertieri, De Sacramentis 
in Genere et de Baptismo et Confirmatione, Vienna 1774; *Vi- 
tasse, De Sacramento Confirmationis Libri VIII (in Migne s 
Theologiae Cursus Completus, Vol. XXI, pp. 546 sqq.) ; Fr. 
Brenner, Geschichtliche Darstellung der Verrichtung und Aus- 
spendung der Firmung, Bamberg 1820; Welz, Das Sakrament 
der Firmung, Breslau 1847; B. Nepefny, Die Firmung, Passau 
1869; G. Bickell, "Das Sakrament der Firmung bei den Ne- 
storianern," in the Innsbruck Zeitschrift fur kath. Theologie, 1877, 
pp. 85 sqq. ; L. Janssens, O.S.B., La Confirmation, Expose 
Dogmatique, Historique et Liturgique, Lille 1888; M. Heimbu- 
cher, Die heilige Firmung, das Sakrament des HI. Geistes, Augs 
burg 1889; M. Meschler, S.J., Die Gaben des hi Pfingstfestes, 
5th ed., Freiburg 1905 ; A. F. Wirgman, The Doctrine of Con 
firmation, London 1902; *Fr. Dolger, Das Sakrament der Fir 
mung, Vienna 1906. 

T. B. Scannell, art. " Confirmation," in Vol. IV of the Catholic 
Encyclopedia. F. H. Chase (Anglican), Confirmation in the 
Apostolic Age, London 1909. A. Devine, C.P., The Sacraments 
Explained, pp. 158 sqq., 3rd ed., London 1905. W. Humphrey, 
S J., The One Mediator, pp. 99 sqq., London 1890. J. R. Gasquet, 
" The Early History of Baptism and Confirmation," in the Dublin 
Review, 1895, pp. 116 sqq. L. Duchesne, Christian Worship, pp. 
292 sqq., London 1903. P. Pourrat, Theology of the Sacra 
ments, passim, 2nd ed., St. Louis 1914. J. Tixeront, History of 
Dogmas, Vol. I, St. Louis 1910, Vol. II, 1914. M. O Dwyer, Con 
firmation: A Study in the Development of Sacramental Theol 
ogy, Dublin 1915. 


ABLUTIONS, 78, no, 216, 217 sqq. 

Abraham, 20, 22. 

Achillia, 273. 

Adam, 19, 20, 233, 265. 

Adiuratio daemonum, 117, 120. 

Administration, Requisites of 

valid, 162 sqq.; Requisites of 

worthy, 188 sqq. 
Agrippinus of Carthage, 172 sq. 
Alapa, 298 sq. 
Albertus Magnus, 134, 181. 
Albigenses, 167, 278. 
Alcuin, 112. 

Alexander III, 35, 225. 
Alexander VIII, 186. 
Alexander, Bishop, 180. 
Alexander of Hales, 101, 113, 

134, 144, 181. 
Alphonsus, St., 227. 
Alterations in the formula of 

Baptism, 225 sqq. 
Amalarius of Metz, 298. 
Ambrose, St., 16, 54 sqq., 80, 

210, 222, 231, 246, 247. 

Amort, Eusebius, 71. 

Amphilochius, St., 164. 

Anabaptists, 268. 

Andrea, Jacob, 39. 

Andrew, St., 21 1. 

Angels, 75, 80, 90, 93, 163, 164, 

Anointing with chrism (see 

Anselm of Laon, 34. 
Antonio de Dominis, 278. 
Apostles, The, 101 sqq., 104, 

106, 108, 114, 209 sq., 211, 

223 sq., 255 sq., 280, 281, 285, 

287, 289. 

Apostolic Constitutions, 252, 

Armenians, 294. 

Aspersion, Baptism by, 217, 221. 

Athanasius, St., 180, 233. 

Attrition, 194 sq., 201 sq. 

Audientes genuflect entes 
competentes, 240. 

Augsburg Confession, 123, 136, 

Augustine, St., 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 
19, 20, 24, 34, 53, 56, 61, 
79, 80, 84, 88, 89, 93, 104 sqq., 
131, 140, 141 sq., 163, 168 sq., 
170, 173, 174, 180, 192, 194, 

197, 201, 210, 215, 2l8, 222, 

229, 231, 235, 246, 247, 250, 
251, 260, 261, 262, 266, 271 
sq., 282, 302, 316. 

Aureole, 252. 

Aureolus, 71, 183. 


BAJUS, 244. 

Balsam, 293 sq. 

Baptism, 9, 14, 15, 17, 23, 2A. 
26, 32, 33, 36, 39, 42, 47, 48, 
49, 50, 52, 53, 60, 63, 67, 68, 
71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 
80, 83, 85, 87, 89, 90, 91, 92, 94, 
95, 103, 104, 105, 107, no, in, 
126 sq., 129 sqq., 133 sq., 139, 
140, 141, 142, 148 sq., 150, 153 
sq., 155, 156, 164, 165, 168 sq., 
170, 172 sqq., 180 sq., 186, 101, 
192, 194, 201 sq. Definition 
of, 204; Divine institution, 
206 sqq. ; Prefigured in the O. 
T., 206 sqq. ; Admitted by all 


3 20 


heretical sects, 208 ; When in 
stituted by Christ, 209 sqq. ; 
Matter and form, 213 sqq.; 
The baptismal water, 213 
sqq. ; Ablution, 217 sqq. ; The 
formula of, 221 sqq.; B. in 
the name of Jesus, 223 sq. ; 
Alterations in the baptismal 
formula, 225 sqq.; Sacramen 
tal effects, 228 sqq. ; Grace of 
justification, 228 sqq. ; Remis 
sion of punishments due to 
sin, 231 sqq.; The baptismal 
character, 234 sqq. ; Necessity 
of, 238 sqq.; B. of desire, 
243 sqq. ; Of blood, 248 sqq. ; 
The Minister of, 254 sqq.; 
The Recipient, 265 sqq. 

Baptismal font, Blessing of the, 
114, 215. 

Baptism of Christ vs. that of 
John the Baptist, 230 sq. 

Baptismus clinicorum, 218. 

Bap tismus flu-minis flaminis 
sanguinis, 238 sqq. 

Baptisteries, Ancient, 219. 

Baptists, 268. 

Basil, St., 173, 222, 236, 240, 261, 

Basnage, 278. 

Beer, Not valid matter for bap 
tising, 215. 

Bellarmine, Card, 13, 17, 23, 25, 
44, "8, 152, 289, 310. 

Bellelli, 18. 

Benedict XIV, 109, 267, 291 sq., 

295, 305, 3". 

Benediction, 117. 

Berengarius, 35. 

Bernard, St., 54, 56 sq., 210, 

Berti, 146. 

Billot, Card, 158 sq. 

Billuart, 72, 87, 145. 

Bishops, 283, 295, 307 sqq. 

Blessed objects, 119. 

Blessings, 144 sqq. 

Blood, Baptism of, 248 sqq. 

Blow on the cheek at Confir 
mation, 298 sq. 

Bonaventure, St., 37, 49, 68, 
101, 102, 134, 144, 157, 181, 

212, 252. 

Boniface, St., 226. 
Bonus motus cordis, 137 sq. 
Bruno of Asti, St., 16. 
Bulgarians, 224. 
"Burial of the Dead" as a Sac 
rament, 42. 

Cajetan, Card., 75, 158, 197, 295. 
Callistus, Nicephorus, 164. 
Calvin, 33, 122, 123, 136, 278, 

300. ^ 

Calvinists, 39. 
Cano, Melchior, 152. 
Canones Hippolyti, 291. 
Capital punishment, 234. 
Capital sins, 50. 
Carthage, Council of, (253) 

271 ; ("416) 240. 
Catacombs, 272 sq. 
Catechism, Roman, 15, 30, 64, 

204, 224, 233. 234, 257, 289, 


Catechumenate, 240 sq., 246 sq. 

Catechumeni competences 
electi, 240 sq. 

Cathari, 23, 215. 

Catharinus, Ambrosius, 177, 183 

Causes, 143 sqq. 

Character dominions, 79, 92. 

Character, The Sacramental, 
Existence of, 76 sqq.: Its du 
ration, 81 sqq.; In what it 
consists, 84 sqq. ; Where it re 
sides, 87 sq. ; Its object, 88 
sqq. ; Connection between 
and grace 93 sq. ; Why it is 
conferred by only three of 
the Sacraments, 94 sq. ; Is it 
the physical medium of 
grace? 156 sq. ; Is merely a 
gratia gratis data, not gra- 
tum faciens, 200; Of Bap- 



tism, 234 sqq.; Of Confirma 
tion, 302 sq., 315 sq. 

Charismata, 282 , 302. 

Charity, Perfect, 244. 

Charles Borromeo, St., 220. 

Chemnitz, 76, 136, 286. 

Chrism, 289 sq., 293 sqq. 

" Chrisma Cyrillianum," 286. 

Chrismatio, 288 sqq. 

Christ, 29, 37, 63, 75, 79, 91, 92, 
94, 97 sqq., 119, 129, 130, 135, 
146 sqq., 161, 164 sq., 170, 174, 
179, 181, 207 sqq., 214, 215, 

222, 223, 226, 228, 23O, 231, 

232 239, 244 sq., 249 sq. 
" Christen," 226. 
Chrysostom, St. John, 53, 80, 

130, 153, 163, 169, 216, 222 

sq., 231, 235, 251, 285, 302, 

Church, 34, 106, 108, 114, 117, 

118, 119, 178 sqq., 201. 
Circumcision, 9, 20, 22 sqq., 27, 

61, 206, 270 sq. 
Clairvaux, Council of (1268), 


Clement XIV, 305 sq. 
Clement of Alexandria, 235. 
Collyridians, 263. 
Cologne, Council of (1280), 35, 

Compiegne, Council of (757), 

Communion, 14, 15, 17, 132, 140, 

163, 198 sq., 203, 243. 
Concupiscence, 229 sq. 
Condition, 144. 
Confectio, 182. 
Confession among schismatics, 


Confirmation, 28, 32, 36, 39, 42, 
47, 49, 50, 52, 53, 60, 68, 69, 
71, 72, 76, 77, 78, 80, 89, 90, 
91, 92, 94, 95, 101, 104, 107, 
108, 109, 127, 132, 150, 170, 
174, 195, 202, 204. Name, 
276; Definition, 276 sq. ; Di 
vine institution, 278 sqq. ; 
Matter and form, 288 sqq.; 
Sacramental effects, 300 sqq. ; 

Obligation of receiving, 304 

sqq.; Minister of, 307 sqq.; 

Recipient, 314 sqq. 
Consecration, 117, 119, 180, 183, 

Consecrationes benedictiones, 

117, 119 sq. 
Constance, Council of (1418), 

36, 167. 
Constantinople, First Council of 

(381), 297- 
Contenson, 183. 

Contrition, Perfect and imper 
fect, 202, 244 sq., 249. 
Coresius, 40. 
Corinthians, 267. 
Cornelius, Centurion, 245, 246, 

256, 314- 

Cornelius, St., Pope, 180, 284. 
Corpse cannot be baptized, 267. 
Corruption of the Sacramental 

Form, no sq. 
Crusius, Martin, 39. 
Cumont, 285. 
Cyprian, St., 132, 172 sq., 215, 

218, 219, 222, 245, 250, 251, 

261, 271 sq., 283, 285, 289, 


Cyril of Alexandria, St., 130. 
Cyril of Jerusalem, St., 52, 53, 

73 sq., 80, 81, 129, 240, 250, 

285 sq. 
Cyril Lucar, 39 sq. 



Damascene of Thessalonica, 42. 

David, 244. 

Deacon, The extraordinary 

minister of solemn Baptism, 

257 sq. 

Deaconesses, 221. 
De Augustinis, 152". 
Decentius of Eugubium, 308. 
Decretum pro Armenis, 49, 62, 
63, 64, 94, 178, 185, 221, 226, 

228, 236, 255, 262, 264, 289, 

301, 3H. 


De Lugo, 10, 26, 68, 84, 93, 152, 
155, 310. 

De Rebaptismate, 245. 

Desire, Baptism of, 243 sqq. 

Determinatio generica speci 
fied individua, 107 sqq. 

Didache, 219. 

Dionysius the Great of Alex 
andria, 173. 

Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopa- 
gite, 42, 289 sq. 

Discipline of the Secret, 51, 53. 

Diseases of the soul, 49 sq. 

Disposition of the Recipient, 
73 sqq., 125 sq., 142. 

Dispositio spiritualis, 158 sq. 

Dolger, 285, 289. 

Dominica in albis, 241. 

Domitian, 249. 

Donatists, 79, 89, 166, 168 sq., 
173, 192, 246, 261, 316. 

Donatus the Great, 168. 

Drouin, 152, 183. 

Duhamel, 183. 

Durandus, 84, 182, 310. 


EBED Jesu, 42. 

Effects common to all the Sac 
raments, 66 sqq.; Of Bap 
tism, 228 sqq.; Of Confirma 
tion, 300 sqq. 

Effusion, Baptism by, 217, 218, 
219, 220 sq. 

Egyptian Church Ordinance, 
290 sq. 

Eleusinian Mysteries, 7. 

Emerentiana, St., 251. 

Encratites, 173. 

ETrepwTT^a. 148 sq. 

Ephraem, St., 81. 

Epiphanius, 263. 

Erasmus, 273. 

Estius, 210, 289. 

Eucharist, Holy, 28, 32, 33, 36, 
39, 42, 48, 49, 50, 52, 54, 60, 
63, 64, 68, 69 sq., 72, 74. 83, 
95, 103, 104, 105, 107, 127, 
132, 139, 145, 153, 162, 169, 
196, 198 sq., 202, 256, 292. 

Eugene IV, 10, 49, 59, 60, 182, 
185, 221, 228, 295, 311. 

Ex op ere operantis, 118. 

Ex- opere operate, 73, 113, 114, 
115, H7, 122, 123, 124, 125 
sqq., 132, 135 sqq., 144, 170, 
195, 202. 

Exorcisms, 114, 117. 

Extreme Unction, 17, 28, 32, 36, 
37, 39, 42, 48, 40, SO, 52, 60, 
68, 69, 83 sq., 95, 101, 103, 
104, 127, 150, 191, 196, 199, 
202, 304. 

" Eyes of God," The seven, 50. 

FABIAN, Pope. 289 sq. 

Fabius of Antioch, 180. 

Faith, 128, 208, 229. 

Farvacques, 183, 186. 

Feet, Washing of, 54 sqq., 114. 

Felix of Aptunga, 168. 

Fidelis intentio, 184. 

Fidus, 271. 

Firmilian of Caesarea, 172 sq. 

Fishes, The faithful compared 

to, 217. 
Fitness of Sacraments under 

the New Law, Reasons for, 

30 sqq. 
Florence, Council of (1439), 

10, 26, 36, 38, 59, 76, 220, 259, 

268, 297, 300, 311. 
Fiorina, 272. 
Foetus, 266. 
" Fons patens" 214. 
Form, of Baptism, 221 sqq. ; Of 

Confirmation, 296 sqq. 
Franzelin, Card., 152, 184. 
Fraticelli, 167. 
Funk, F. X., 241, 291. 

GABRIEL of Philadelphia, 40. 
Gelasius I, 258. 
Georgios Protosynkellos, 40. 
Gifts of the Holy Ghost, 50, 

229 sq., 301 sq. 
Gihr, N., 152. 



Glossner, 183. 

Gnostics, 8, 208, 215, 286. 

Goethe on the Sacraments, 44 


Grabmann, 34. 

Gratia sacramentalis, 66, 70 sqq. 
Greek Schism, 38 sq. 
Gregory I, the Great, St., 112, 

189, 220, 231, 308, 312. 
Gregory IX, 215. 
Gregory X, 36. 
Gregory of Bergamo, 35. 
Gregory of Nazianzus, St., 169 

sq., 210, 230. 

Gregory of Nyssa, St., 215. 
Gregory of Valentia, 289, 313. 
Gutberlet, 133, 152. 


HAAS, L, 183. 

Harnack, 80, 114, 115, 117, 132, 

133, 140, 141, 204, 206. 
Herbord, 34. 
Heretics, Baptism administered 

by, 261 sq. 
" Holy Ferment," 42*. 
Holy Ghost, 276, 279 sqq., 300 


Holy Water, 117, 118. 
Hugh of St. Victor, 36, 101, 

113, 181, 310. 
Hunter, S. J, 43, 270. 
Hus, 36, 38. 
Hussites, 167, 278. 
Hypostatic Union, 29, 92, 99. 


ICONIUM, Council of, 172 sq. 
Ignatius, St., of Antioch, 302. 
Immersion, Baptism by, 217 sq., 

219, 220. 

Imposition of hands, 276, 281 

sq., 288 sq., 297, 316 sq. 
Indulgences, 114, 115, 119. 
Infant Baptism, 132, 134, 268 

T f qq 

.Infant communion, 132. 

Infants can be confirmed, 315. 
Innocent I, 53, 240, 282 sq., 294, 

Innocent III, 23, 25, 35, 76, 134, 
182, 184, 198, 247, 252, 293, 

Innocent XI, 190. 

Innocents, The holy, 251. 

Instrumentum adaequatum gra- 
tiae, 166. 

Intentio, actualis virtualis 
habitualis interpretative, 
directa reflexa mere ex- 
terna, 176 sqq., 183 sqq. 

Intentio faciendi quod facit 
Ecclesia, 181 sq., 185. 

Intention, Of the Minister, 64 
sq., no; Definition of, 175 
sqq.; Necessity of, 175 sqq.; 
Of the Recipient, 196 sqq. 

Irenaeus, St., 132, 251, 272, 302. 

Isidore, St., 112, 258, 262. 

lustificatio prima secunda, 68 
sqq., 201 sqq., 228 sq. 


James, St., 103. 

Jeremias of Constantinople, 39. 

Jerome, St., 260, 282, 289. 

Jerusalem, Schismatic council 

of (1672), 261. 
Jesus, Baptism in the name of, 

223 sq. 

Job of Thessalonica, 42 
John, St. (the Evangelist), 126, 

211, 249, 281, 283 sq., 307. 
John, St. (the Baptist), 207, 

210, 211, 214, 224, 230 sq. 
John the Deacon, 295. 
Juenin, 183. 
Justification, i, 24, 122 sq., 126, 

128, 130, 136, 138, 147, 106 

sq., 228 sqq, 244. 
Justin Martyr, St., 302. 


K 1, 294. 



Laodicaea, Council of (370), 

Lateran, Fourth Council of the 

(1215), 259. 
Latin language, Use of in the 

administration of the Sacra 
ments, 112 sq. 
"Laver of regeneration," 126 

sq., 217 sq., 2-33 sq., 244. 
Law of Nature, State of the, 

19 sqq. 
Laymen, Baptism administered 

by, 260 sqq. 

Leo the Great, St., 130 sq. 
Lex orandi, lex credendi, 54. 
Lion, Baptized, 265. 
Loisy, Alfred, 103. 
London, Council of (1272), 35. 
Lord s Supper, 32. 
Lotio pedum, 54 sqq., 114. 
Lugo, Card., 64. 
Luther, 32, 33, 43, 122, 123, 133, 

134, 138, 140, 164, 165, 183, 

213, 278. 

Lutherans, 39, 132 sq., 134, 138. 
Lyons, Second Council of 

(1274), 36, 38, 293, 311. 



Magic effect attributed to the 
Sacraments, 136 sq., 140, 146. 

Magnus, 218. 

Majorinus, 168. 

Maldonatus, 289. 

Maltzew, Provost, 40. 

Mandate to baptize, 239, 255 sq., 

Manichaeans, 208. 

Marcosians, 215. 

Marcus Eugenicus, 220. 

Martin V, 36, 182, 184. 

Martin of Bracara, St., 220. 

Martyrdom can supply the place 
of Baptism, 248 sqq. 

Martyrs, 248 sq. 

Mary, B. V., 130 sq. 

Mass, The, i, 179, 184. 

Matter and Form of a Sacra 
ment, 59 sqq., 107 sqq. 

Matrimony, 7, 18, 19, 28, 32, 
36, 37, 39, 42, 48, 49, 50, 52, 
54, 63, 64, 68, 69, 83, 95, 104, 
109, ISO, 156, 157, 164, 165, 
179, 191, 196, 199, 202. 

Meaux, Council of (845), 101. 

Melanchthon, 33, 278. 

Meletius Syrigus, 40. 

Mennonites, 55, 268. 

Messias, 21. 

Michael Palaeologus, 36, 293. 

Mileve, Second Council of 
(416), 269. 

Minister of a Sacrament, 
Worthiness of the, 73 sqq.; 
Intention, no; Person of the, 
162 sqq. ; Must be duly quali 
fied, 164 sqq. ; No one can ad 
minister a Sacrament to him 
self, 166; Validity of a Sac 
rament does not depend on 
personal holiness of the, 166 
sqq.; Nor on his orthodoxy, 
171 sqq. ; Necessity of a right 
intention, 175 sqq. ; Requisites 
of worthy administration, 188 
sqq.; Of Baptism, 254 sqq.; 
Of Confirmation, 307 sqq. 

Mithra, Cult of, 30, 285. 

Modernism, 103, 139. 

Mogilas, Peter, 40. 

Mohler, 135. 

Monophysites, 41. 

Montanists, 225. 

Morgott, 184. 

Morinus, 292. 

Mosaic Law, Sacraments of the, 
26 sqq. 

Moses, 20, 21, 26 sqq., 214. 

Murtius Verinus, 272. 

Mwrripiov, 5 sqq. 


NECESSITY, Of Baptism, 238 
sqq.; Of Confirmation, 304 

Neocaesarea, Council of (be 
tween 314 and 325), 240. 

Neophytes, 216. 

Nepefny, 289, 290. 

Nerva, 219. 



Nestorians, 41, 42, 287. 

Nestorius, 43. 

New Testament, Sacraments of 
the, vs. those of the Old, 8, 
10, 16 sqq., 18 sqq., 29 sqq., 
61 sq., 144 sq. 

Nicene Council (First), 261. 

Nicholas I, 224, 262. 

Nicodemus, 207, 210. 

Nominalists, 182. 

Norwegians, 215. 

Novatian, 180, 284. 

Novatians, 278. 

OBEX gratiae, 69, 125 sq., 136, 
156, IQ3 sqq., 202 sq. 

Occasion, 144. 

Ockam, 17. 

Odo of Paris, 35. 

Oil, Not valid matter for bap 
tizing, 215; As matter in 
Confirmation, 289 sq., 293 sqq. 

Old Testament, Sacraments of, 
8 sq., 10 sq., 16, 61, 105, 144 

Optatais of Mileve, St., 168, 294. 

Opus operans opus operatum, 
135 sq. 

95, 103, 104, 107, 108, 109, 
127, 150, 164, 168, 170, 174, 
191, ipS, 199- 

Ordination, Difference in rite 
of, 109 sq. 

Origen, 132, 168, 272. 

Original Sin, 20, 21, 23 sqq , 228 
sqq., 247, 265, 271. 

Ornatus animae, 158 sq. 

Orthodoxy not a requisite for 
the valid reception of the Sac 
raments, 171 sqq., 192 sqq. 

Oswald, 152, 183, 296. 

Otto of Bamberg, St., 34. 38. 

Oxford, Council of (1222), 35. 


Paganism, 114 sq. 

Palestine, 242. 

Paludanus, 71, 75. 

Paradise, The quasi-Sacra- 

ments of, 18 sqq. 
Parallels to the Christian Sac- 

ments in the ethnic religions 

of antiquity, 30. 
Parthenius, 40. 
Passion, 210, 211, 212, 279. 
Paul, St., 7, IS, 25, 26, 61, 77 

sq., 112, 140, 179, 201, 210, 218, 

221, 230, 231, 232, 233, 236, 

263, 267, 307. 

" Pecca fortiter, crede fortins. 

Pelagians, 240, 271. 

Penance, 17, 28, 32, 36, 37, 39, 
42, 48, 49, 50, 52, 63, 64, 68, 
84, 95, 103, 104, 108, 114, 115, 
127, 150, 172, 174, 179, 191, 
192, 195, 196, 201 sq., 203, 244, 

Pentecost, 209, 218, 242 sq., 256, 

279, 301. 
Pepuzians, 173. 

Personal Sanctification, 9 sq. 
Pesch, Chr., 152. 
Peter Damian, St., 305. 
Peter Lombard, 8, 9, 36, 37, 49, 

91, 101, 223. 

Peter of Poitiers, 134. 
Peter, St., 148, 165, 211, 256, 

280, 283 sq., 307. 

Philip, The deacon, 214, 258, 

281, 285, 307- 
Photius, 38, 41, 307, 311. 
Pierre de Bruys, 198. 
Pignus Spiritus, 78 sq. 
Pius X, 103. 

Poenae poenalitates, 234. 

Polycarp, St., 302. 

Pontificate Romanum, 257, 292", 


Poore, Richard, 35. 

Postponing Baptism to an ad 
vanced age, or to death, 268. 

Potcntia obedientialis, 145. 

Potestas auctoritatis excel- 
lentiae ministerii, 98 sqq., 
1 06. 



Pourrat, 52, 54, 80, 123. 

Power, Threefold, In regard to 
the institution of the Sacra 
ments, o sqq., 106. 

Preparation necessary to re 
ceive the Sacraments, 125 sq. 

Priest, The ordinary minister 
of Baptism, 255 sq. ; The ex 
traordinary minister of Con 
firmation, 310 sqq. 

Priesthood, 90, 92 sq., 94, 165, 
170, 256, 282. 

Private Baptism, 254, 259 sqq. 

Proclus, 290. 

Propaganda, S. C. of, 292, 306. 

Protestant errors regarding the 
Sacraments, 32 sq., 112 sq., 
132 sqq., 135, 136 sq., 138, 278, 

Pseudo-Ambrose, 104, 130. 

Punishments due to sin remit 
ted by Baptism, 231 sqq. 



Radulphus Ardens, 34. 

Rebaptism, 168, 172 sqq., 235, 

Recipient, Of a Sacrament, Dis 
position of the, 73 sqq., 115; 
Requisites of valid reception, 
191 sqq. ; Requisites of worthy 
reception, 200 sqq.; Of Bap 
tism, 265 sqq.; Of Confirma 
tion, 314 sqq. 

Refusing the Sacraments, Duty 
of, 189 sq. 

Regeneration, Spiritual, 67, 214, 
216, 239. 

Remission of punishments due 
to sin, an effect of Baptism, 
231 sqq. 

Remotio obicis (see obcx gra- 

Res et verbum, 59 sqq., 62 sqq. 

Reviviscence of the Sacra 
ments, 156 sqq., 193 sqq. 

Rhabanus Maurus, 112. 
Roland, Master, 35. 

SACRAMENTA consecratoria 
medicinalia, 52. 

Sacramental Ceremonies, in, 
139, 241. 

Sacramental Grace, 66, 70 sqq. 

Sacramentals, in sqq.; Classi 
fication of, 116 sq. ; Efficacy 
of, 117 sqq., 231. 

" Sacrament of Nature," 20 
sqq., 242 sq. 

Sacraments, Visible means of 
grace, i, 54; Definition, 5 
sqq. ; Signs, 12 sqq. ; Of Par 
adise, 18 sqq.; Of the state 
of the law of nature, 19 sqq. ; 
Of the Mosaic law 26 sqq. ; 
Three essential constituents, 
58 sqq. ; Matter and form, 59 
sqq.; Sacraments of the liv 
ing and of the dead, 68 sqq., 
201 sqq. ; The Sacramental 
Character, 76 sqq.; The Sac 
raments instituted by Christ, 
97 sqq. ; Efficacy, 121 sqq. ; 
Physical or moral causes of 
grace? 143 sqq. ; The minister 
of, 161 sqq.; Person of the, 
162 sqq.; Requisites of valid 
administration 166 sqq. ; 
Necessity of a right inten 
tion, 175 sqq.; Requisites of 
worthy administration, 188 
sqq.; Requisites of valid ^re 
ception, 191 sqq.; Requisites 
of worthy reception, 200 sqq. ; 
Baptism, 206 sqq.; Confirma 
tion, 276 sqq. 

Sacramentum, 5 sqq. ; naturae, 
20 sqq.; et res, 82 sqq., 
200 sqq. ; Validum et in 
form e, 193. 

Sacrilege, 188, 189 sq., 200 sq. 

Sanctifying Grace conferred by 
the Sacraments, 67 sqq., 228 
sq., 300 sqq. 

Sardinia, 308, 312*. 



Schazler, 152. 

Scheeben, 159. 

Schell, 296, 301. 

Scotists, 24, 26, 63, 64, 85, 87, 
181, 294, 310. 

Scotus, 24, 64, 75, 85, 137, 144, 
154, 181, 211. 

Seal of the Spirit, 78. 

Septem scrutinia, 241. 

Septenary number of the Sac 
raments, 32 sqq., 44 sqq., 51 
sqq., 133- 

Sergius, Pope, 262. 

Serry, 183. 

Seven, The number, 32 sqq., 44 
sqq., 51 sqq., 133- 

Sign of the Cross, as a Sacra 
ment, 42. 

Signs, 12 sqq., 124, 139. 

Signum, Threefold, 12 sqq. ; 89 
sqq., 303- 

Silas, 218. 

Simar, 306. 

Simon Magus, 246, 281. 

Simon of Thessalonica, 40. 

Simulation, 190. 

Sin, 30, 116, 231 sq. 

Socinians, 122, 123, 208, 213. 

Solemn Baptism, 254 sqq. 

Soto, Dominicus, 37, 60, 118, 

144, 295- 

Sphragis, 79, 89, 235, 276, 297. 
Sponsors, 270. 
Staerk, 288. 

Stanislaus Kostka, St., 163. 
Status viae, 266 sq. 
Stephen I, 172, 261, 316. 
Stephen, St., 285. 
Suarez, 20, 23, 49, 68, 72, 84, 

86, 145, 152, 155, 156, 165, 210, 

295, 309, 3io, 313- 
Sylvester I, 285. 
Sylvester Prierias, 183. 

TALMUDISM, 114 sq. 

Tapper, 292. 

Tarsus, Council of (1177), 294. 

Tepe, 152. 

Tertullian, 6, 8, 52, 112, 129, 

131, 132, 168, 208 sq., 215, 217, 
218, 222, 231, 233, 234, 240, 

250, 256, 200, 263, 284, 285, 


Testamentum D. N. lesu 
Christi, 290 sq. 

Theodotus the Valentinian, 235. 

Theophilus of Antioch, St., 286. 

Thomas of Argentina, 164. 

Thomas, St., i, 15, 16, 18, 19, 
21, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 37, 46, 
61, 64, 68, 69, 74, 81, 85, 87, 
88, 89, 91, 1 06, 113, 117, 119, 
134, 151, 157 sq., 163, 164, 181, 

198, 210, 220, 223, 231, 234, 

252, 256, 264, 289, 295, 309. 

Thomists, 22, 69, 72, 87 sq., 145, 
152, 156, 158, 181, 294, 310. 

Toletus, 109. 

Tournely, 23, 25, 152. 

Tree of Life, 18, 19. 

Trent, Council of, 2, 10, 32, 37, 
38, 41, 43, 62, 67, 68, 70, 71, 
73, 77, 81, 84, 88, 94, 97, 101, 
102 sq., 109, III, 122, 123 sq., 
125, 132, 134, 135, 136, 138 
sq, 164, 167, 171, 178, 185 sq., 
193 196, 206, 213, 217, 223, 
230, 232, 234, 238, 242, 
244, 261, 268, 269, 273, 
279, 290, 296, 304, 307, 




Trinity, 91 sq., 183, 221 sq., 223, 

225, 241, 248, 298. 
Tritheism, 225, 227. 
Trombelli, 310. 
Trullan Council (692), 297. 
Tubingen, 39. 


UNBELIEVERS, Baptism adminis 
tered by, 262 sq. 

Unworthiness, Personal, Does 
not render a Sacrament in 
valid, 193 ; but is sacrilegious, 
200 sq. 

Urban II, 263. 




Validity, Conditions of, 162 


Vartanus, 42. 

Vasquez, 23, 25, 63, 104, 152. 
Velasquez, 152. 
Verbum concionale, 138. 
Verina, 272. 

Vincent of Lerins, 173. 
Viva, 68, 145. 
Votum sacramenti, 248, 304. 
Vow, Baptismal, 273 sqq. 


WALDENSES, 35, 167, 184, 278. 
Water, Baptismal, 126, 130, 137, 

213 sqq. 

Wiclif, 36, 38, 76, 167. 
Wiclifites, 167, 2-78. 

William of Auxerre, 62, 134, 

William of Champeaux, 34. 

Womb, Baptismal font com 
pared to, 130 sq., 216, 235; 
Child baptized in the ma 
ternal, 266. 

Women, Baptism administered 
by, 263 sq. 


Zachary, Pope, 226. 
Zwing-li, 33, 122, 123. 

Vol.1 H978